Our Best Shot (OBS) is a new children’s book explaining why we should get an annual flu shot and it is not something to fear…and adults may even benefit, said the author.
Alexandria Yarborough, PharmD, Pharmacy Manager at Sam’s Club in Columbia, South Carolina, and author of OBS, discusses her new children’s book with Pharmacy Times.
In this continued interview, Yarborough discusses meaning and inspiration for her pharmacy-focused children’s book, her partnership with Families Fighting Flu, and the service-centered philosophy of being a community pharmacist.
Q: What did the process of writing your children’s book, Our Best Shot (OBS), mean to you?
Alexandria Yarborough, PharmD: It was so fun to write. I've always loved writing. I was a writing tutor and undergrad for I went to pharmacy school, and I didn't really think I was going to be able to use much of that, [but] I definitely have.
I don't know if I mentioned this, when we first started talking about I originally got into writing children's book, because of my goddaughter Lorelai. She has cystic fibrosis (CF). And I wanted everyone to know that so many people don't understand CF—and so I wrote that. And then I was like, “You know what? This is great…I wrote that book, I kind of explained it.”
And then I was like, “What else should I do?”
And so I kind of already had in the back of my mind [that] that could be something that's a resource, but I didn't think it would. I didn't really know where to start. And so that is when I collaborated with Families Fighting Flu, LLC.(FFF).
I [had] started writing blog posts for them as a volunteer and they loved the idea. And it just kind of went from there.
Q: What did it mean to you to collaborate with Families Fighting Flu on OBS?
Alexandria Yarborough, PharmD: So I was talking about vaccines a lot on my own personal social media. I started during the pandemic, and all the different vaccines were coming out— I was getting all types of questions from my mom's friends across state lines, and things like that.
So I realized that I was a resource and I started posting about that. And then FFF liked one of my posts. And I was like, “Oh! I've never heard about them.” And so I looked into it, and they are a nonprofit [who] were founded by families that had either lost their children or their loved ones to the flu. And this was pre-pandemic when they were founded, (and it was families who were like) “Hey… we have a busy life, we weren't able to get our flu shot that year, and this is what happened to us.”
So they tried to advocate to please get your flu shot, please get your flu shot. Not everyone had lost someone—a lot of them had really intense stays in the hospital and hearing their stories and seeing all this…it just breaks my heart when I try to remind people to get their flu shot and it's not something they're interested in.
There are definitely reasons why everyone can't get the flu shot, but most people can and most people it's completely safe for because I don't want these things to happen to them. And so I started writing some blog posts for them answering questions about traveling and holidays, and you know, all the questions I get from my patients, I just really build a relationship with them. And I said, “Hey, now that I'm vaccinating the littles, I think it might be a good idea to have a resource for them.” FFF are like, “Yeah, let's do it.” And they just let me run with it, they gave me feedback, and then we went from there.
Q: Can a child’s fear of needles and vaccination come from the parent?
Alexandria Yarborough, PharmD: Absolutely. So even though this is a children's book, I think it's a good concept for anyone. For most people who are afraid of shots, it goes away, or it gets better. To a certain point, it's one of those things that I can see how the parent presents the entire situation. And then the kid responds to that.
So if they're afraid of it—and they don't understand the concepts— that they're doing these vaccines for the children as a requirement (or they see it as something they have to do), it is their fear that keeps going and going.
It is something that, a lot of times, I think there's so many big concepts behind vaccines that we try to explain to our patients. The more that they understand, the more that they realize why they're doing this. It just makes it so much easier for everyone and [they should] utilize pharmacists… we're here we definitely are helpers.
That's one way I like to teach the parents to describe us. And then I think they need to kind of remember that too. Like we're doing this because we love our patients, we love our communities, we are here in a career of service.
Q: I sense that you emphasize community as an important value to you…
Alexandria Yarborough, PharmD: Absolutely. I feel like during the pandemic, we kind of saw a lot of the fears just displayed and the kind of actions in the way that all health care workers, anyone on the front line. You know, we lost a lot of our patients… we didn't get any time off, and everyone's high stress. I think that they forget that.
We're here to give them their medication. We're not here to hurt them. We're not here to do all these things. At the end of the day, we went into this field because we care for our communities. We care for our patients, we want to you know, we want to help them always and you know a lot of that kind of gets forgotten when they see a needle (laughs).