Flu Season Is Here, So Are Pharmacists

NOVEMBER 01, 2018
Mike Hennessy, Sr, Chairman and CEO
Flu season has arrived once again, and pharmacists across the country are gearing up to provide patients with vaccines to prevent influenza and medications to treat it.

Concern about influenza may be particularly heightened among health care providers and patients after last year’s flu season, during which the virus and related complications claimed an estimated 80,000 lives.1 And though immunization remains the first line of defense against influenza, there is still work to be done in this area, as just 43.3% of adults and 59.0% of children got flu shots during the 2016-2017 flu season, according to the CDC.2

However, as the most accessible members of the health care team, pharmacists can play an essential role in improving influenza vaccination rates. Notably, the results of a recent study indicated that permitting pharmacists to administer flu shots led to 4.1 million adults’ receiving the vaccine and 81,000 to 134,000 fewer influenza infections among adults in 2013.3 Pharmacists can also be crucial in the event of another flu outbreak, with investigators proposing that antiviral medications be dispensed through community pharmacies to improve the public’s access to these drugs.4

To help pharmacists prepare for the 2018-2019 flu season and the variety of ailments that patients experience this time of year, this issue of Pharmacy Times® contains practical information on the common cold, decongestants, upper respiratory infections, whooping cough, and more, as well as a free continuing education activity on major depressive disorderAdditionally, be sure to check out our series of Peer Exchange videos on vaccination at pharmacytimes.com/peer-exchange/immunization.

Each new flu season brings with it new opportunities to educate patients about the importance of immunization and empower them to take charge of their health. As patients increasingly head to their pharmacies to treat or protect themselves from influenza, we are confident that pharmacists will continue to demonstrate the immense value that they bring to the health care team.

Thank you for reading, and remember, collaboration saves lives!
 

References
  1. Stobbe M. 80,000 people died of flu last winter in US. Associated Press website. apnews.com/818b5360eb7d472480ebde13da5c72b5. Published September 26, 2018. Accessed October 1, 2018.
  2. Flu vaccination coverage, United States, 2016-17 influenza season. CDC website. cdc.gov/flu/fluvaxview/coverage-1617estimates.htm. Updated September 28, 2017. Accessed October 1, 2017.
  3. Drozd EM, Miller L, Johnsrud M. Impact of pharmacist immunization authority on seasonal influenza immunization rates across states. Clin Ther. 2017;39(8):1563-1580.e17. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2017.07.004.
  4. SteelFisher GK, Benson JM, Caporello H, et al. Pharmacist views on alternative methods for antiviral distribution and dispensing during an influenza pandemic. Health Secur. 2018;16(2):108-118. doi: 10.1089/hs.2017.0068. 


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