As pharmacists we need to urge all our customers and patients to get a flu shot as soon as possible. Although National Influenza Vaccination Week was earlier in December, this year’s flu season isn’t expected to peak until January or February. As a core part of the healthcare community it is a part of our job to urge everyone to get a flu vaccine now. According to www.Flu.gov, a website managed by HHS, this year’s flu season is expected to be severe. Based on early data the website reports that the 2014-2015 flu season could be the worst in many years. It is an important part of our jobs to educate the community and help inform them of the best ways to protect themselves and their families against getting the flu. Getting vaccinated and taking everyday precautions are the best advice that we can share with our patients on a daily basis.
Here is some general information that we should share with all our customers regarding the flu:
– Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated as soon as possible.
– Everyday precautions should be on everyone’s mind and habits (like washing your hands, covering your cough and staying away from others with the flu).
– If a patient thinks that they have been exposed to the flu (or caring for someone with the flu), suggest that they talk wit their doctor about preventive antiviral medications available.
– Common flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. People who are 65 and older, children – especially those under age 2 – and people with chronic health conditions like emphysema, diabetes and heart failure, are more likely to experience complications from the flu.
For many patients that are uninsured or under-insured there are programs for free flu vaccines available. We again urge all pharmacists to check in their geographic areas as to what programs are available for such patients. Free flu shot vouchers are part of a national program through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help those who are uninsured or underinsured and unable to afford a flu shot.