Flu Shots: On the To-Do List

Flu shot campaigns can help change the image of the community pharmacy image into one of a community health center. Are you taking advantage?

USA Today (9/22, Weise) reports, “Parents should put flu shots on their to-do list now, ‘a tuning up for winter,’ says William Schaffner, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.” Schaffner and other medical experts “urged Americans, especially pregnant women and children, to get vaccinated.” Urging others to follow his example, CDC Director Thomas Frieden “rolled up his sleeve and got his shot during the news conference.”

The Los Angeles Times (9/22, Roan) “Booster Shots” blog reports that most “drugstores, clinics, workplaces and doctor’s offices” already have the flu vaccine, according to health officials. “In addition to the traditional shot and nasal spray, an intradermal shot is now available consisting of a tiny needle that injects vaccine under the skin.” And, there is “a fourth type of flu vaccine is available to people ages 65 and older which consists of a much stronger dose of vaccine.” Frieden said, “It’s never been easier to get vaccinated, and now is the right time to get vaccinated.”

The Wall Street Journal (9/22, Martin, Subscription Publication) Health Blog reports that almost 70% of medical professionals are now urging their patients to get the flu shot. This figure represents a 10% increase compared to 2010. Meanwhile, data show that seniors are the most likely group to get vaccinated.

Our profession is well positioned to help make this happen. As I drive around now, I see all kinds of messages about getting a flu shot. Most of these are associated with community pharmacies. Not only does this message help change the community pharmacy image into a community health center, it also gives the pharmacist the opportunity “to touch” a patient. This interaction gives the pharmacists the chance to tell the patient about how the role of the pharmacist is changing to be a true community health resource.

Are you taking advantage of this new opportunity? Or are you seeing this as one more interruption in a busy day?

This is a unique opportunity for the pharmacist to engage in a one-on-one public relations campaign. Rather than asking why pharmacy associations are not telling pharmacy’s story, you can do it yourself because you have to talk to the patient as you touch them. Have you developed the brief message you want to convey? Our entire profession will benefit from that effort.