The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is encouraging consumers to get immunized against influenza and to consider their local pharmacy as the site to receive their vaccine. Pharmacists in all 50 states including the District of Columbia are authorized to administer influenza vaccines and, as of June 30, 2010, more than 120,000 U.S. pharmacists have been trained to administer immunizations.
“The pharmacist is the public’s most accessible health care provider, and they play an important role on the health care team in protecting their communities from the spread of disease,” said APhA CEO and Executive Vice President Thomas Menighan. “We are encouraging consumers to take proactive steps to support their individual and community’s public health care goals. Visit your local pharmacy to get immunized and hold an open discussion with your pharmacist about any questions or concerns you may have regarding the upcoming influenza season or other vaccine preventable diseases.”
Annually, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population is infected by influenza, resulting in nearly 36,000 deaths and over 200,000 hospitalizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Consistent with the new recommendations by the CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), APhA recommends that all persons six months of age and older be vaccinated each year. Protection of persons at higher risk for influenza-related complications continues to be a focus of vaccination efforts as providers and programs transition to routine vaccination of all persons older than 6 months.
According to the CDC, distribution of the 2010-2011 vaccine has started and providers should begin vaccinating patients as soon as supply is available to them. Consumers are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated early in the season, but immunizations can be received as long as vaccine supply is available. APhA encourages consumers to be proactive and talk to their pharmacists about their vaccination needs and the immunization process at that pharmacy.
APhA encourages consumers to follow good health practices to prevent the spread of influenza, colds and other illnesses. Consumers are encouraged to cover their mouth and nose during a cough or sneeze, avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth, and wash their hands frequently. Other good health practices to follow include using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, getting plenty of regular sleep and avoiding work, school or other places of close contact when you are sick.
In many states, pharmacists are able to administer other important immunizations. Check with your local pharmacist to determine which vaccines they administer. Immunizations may include:
— Pneumococcal (Pneumonia)
— Meningococcal (Meningitis)
— Hepatitis B
— Human papillomavirus (HPV)
— Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis)
— Zoster (Shingles)
Consumers should hold a conversation with their pharmacist and their other healthcare providers about their vaccination needs. APhA encourages patients to maintain a current medication and vaccination list and share the information with all of their healthcare providers.