The Pharmacist's Role During National Influenza Vaccination Week


Flu levels are typically at their highest between December and February.

With National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) in full swing, customers can visit several pharmacies throughout the United States this week and recieve their seasonal influenza vaccine.

Created by the CDC in 2005, NIVW is a national observance that highlights the importance of continuing influenza vaccination, as well as fostering greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season into January.

The CDC recommends that most healthy Americans, 6 months or older, including pregnant women, get vaccinated. Flu vaccines are covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare Part B and are available without an appointment during pharmacy hours, which include evenings and weekends at many locations.

"When it comes to the flu, prevention is better than treatment, and our more than 6,000 Rite Aid certified immunizing pharmacists stand ready to help people protect themselves from the flu this year," Jocelyn Konrad, Rite Aid executive vice president of pharmacy said in a press release issued today about the week's observances. "When you get a flu shot, you're not only protecting yourself, you're also helping to protect the others around you from getting the flu. We encourage everyone to take this opportunity to get vaccinated from the flu and help keep our communities flu free this year."

In the Rite Aid press release, Jennifer Caudle, a nationally renowned health expert and practicing family physician, noted that it takes about 2 weeks after a flu vaccination for the body to develop its full defense against the flu.

Several pharmacy chains are offering a quadrivalent flu vaccine, which offers protection against four strains of the flu: the influenza A H3N2 virus, the influenza A H1N1 virus and two strains of influenza B virus; a standard trivalent vaccine; and FLUAD, a trivalent vaccine with adjuvant, an ingredient that helps create a stronger immune response to vaccination, approved for people 65 and older.

Following last year's flu season, which saw the highest levels of flu cases since 2009, a recent survey conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of CVS Pharmacy, found that 22% of those surveyed say that knowledge of last year's severe flu season makes them more likely to get a flu shot this year. Additionally, two-thirds of those surveyed said they get a flu vaccine every year, or plan to get one this year, a 5% increase from last year's survey findings, according to a statement issued by CVS on NIVW.

"Flu levels are typically at their highest between December and February, and while we are seeing an increased number of vaccinations this year, it's important to remind those who have not yet gotten vaccinated that there is still time to do so," Papatya Tankut, Vice President, Pharmacy Affairs, CVS Health explained in the statement. "With the flu typically spreading to many communities this time of year and people gathering for the holidays, it is especially important for families to get vaccinated to ensure they remain healthy through the holiday season and into 2019."

Influenza prevention and treatment options are a popular topic of discussion this week at the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting in Anaheim, CA, with planned discussions on new and emerging antivirals, and engaging rural health care pharmacists in the vaccination process.

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