Your pharmacist, the flu and you: UHS offers vaccine

Each year over a million people get the flu. As a result thousands of days of work and school will be missed and billions of dollars will be spent on doctor’s visits and over-the-counter medications. For many people, the flu’s negative impact can be avoided by getting a yearly flu shot.

Last year only 43 percent of all Americans got the flu shot. However, the Centers for Disease Control states, “Getting a flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.”

While the vaccination doesn’t cover all types of the flu, it does cover what are expected to be the most common strains for that year. In order to ensure you are getting the best coverage, you should get revaccinated every year because of the virus’s ability to change, or mutate, from season to season.

According to research done by the Stanford School of Medicine, the average person who gets a flu vaccine saves $30 on flu-related costs, even though they may pay to get the vaccine. At UK, flu shots cost $10 for undergraduate and graduate students.

Currently, there are many locations to get a flu shot, including pharmacies, University Health Service “Flu Fighters” clinics, the health department and doctors’ offices. Pharmacies are one of the most accessible places to get a flu shot.

For most pharmacies, it is unnecessary to even schedule an appointment and the entire process typically doesn’t require more than 20 to 30 minutes of your time.

Prior to 2004, pharmacists were only allowed to administer vaccinations to patients presenting with a prescription for a specific vaccine. However, in July of 2004, legislation was enacted that greatly changed the pharmacist’s role in the administration of immunizations. Currently pharmacists are allowed to administer any vaccination to patients ages 14 and above as long as they have an agreement with a physician who approves the pharmacy’s immunization protocol.

Additionally, in June of 2011, legislation once again changed giving pharmacists the ability to administer flu vaccinations to patients ages 9 and above via a protocol. These changes to Kentucky legislation have allowed pharmacists to take on a larger role, thus increasing vaccination rates in the state of Kentucky. This was largely due to pharmacists being so available to educate and administer vaccinations.

Throughout the month of October, students from the Colleges of Pharmacy and Nursing will participate in the University Health Service flu clinics that will be set up around campus. Students from the College of Pharmacy were also given the opportunity to administer flu shots to President Capilouto, Interim Provost Tim Tracy, and the College of Pharmacy Interim Dean Patrick McNamara.

This is the second year pharmacy students have immunized these university leaders. President Capilouto encouraged this student initiative, stating, “I applaud our students for taking a leadership role in this initiative. Receiving a flu vaccine is very important, and I encourage everyone to consult with their local pharmacist to find out whether they should be immunized.”

In conjunction with this event, pharmacy students also traveled with a cart containing flu shots around the College of Pharmacy and the Biomedical/Biological Sciences Research Building to vaccinate faculty and staff. Three teams went from office to office to offer the vaccine to employees in the convenience of their own workplace.

By making it simple to get a flu vaccine, students hoped to increase immunization rates, especially among those who would otherwise not have taken the time to get vaccinated. Getting a flu shot is one of the simplest and most available ways students can decrease their risk of getting sick this winter.

Consider stopping by one of the UHS clinics this October or your local pharmacy to get a flu shot.