(ARA) – The flu season is here and many consumers have questions about who should be vaccinated and when, especially given the H1N1 flu outbreak last year.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared the end of the H1N1 pandemic, the virus, along with the traditional seasonal flu, is still active and a level of concern remains. This year, for the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that all individuals older than 6 months get a flu shot. Many will recall that the H1N1 virus struck younger individuals than the 50-plus population who typically are at higher risk for the seasonal flu.
“This year’s seasonal flu vaccine protects against three strains of influenza expected to be circulating this flu season, including the H1N1 virus,” says Dr. Troy Brennan, chief medical officer at CVS Caremark. “Even if you received an H1N1 shot last flu season, you should still get this year’s ‘all in one’ vaccine.”
The CDC recommends flu vaccinations as early in the season as possible for the best protection. Fortunately, finding the vaccine this year will be easier than ever. For the first time, pharmacists in all 50 states are allowed to provide vaccinations as their role in community health care services continues to expand. According to the CDC, 12 percent of vaccinations last season were pharmacist-administered. And, retail pharmacies are active again this year.
With the new regulations, CVS/pharmacy is offering flu vaccinations at each of its locations across the country. For added convenience, consumers can go to cvs.com/flu and schedule a flu shot at a date, time and location of their choice. MinuteClinic, the medical walk-in clinics inside 500 select stores, will also offer flu shots on demand seven days a week with no appointment necessary.
“We are making flu shots more accessible to hopefully encourage more people to take action and protect themselves – and their families – from the flu this year,” says Brennan.
In addition to the convenience of booking flu shots online at www.cvs.com/flu, CVS/pharmacy is encouraging people to get their flu shots by offering flu shot gift cards. Available for $29.95, the flu gift card can be used at any of the 7,000 CVS/pharmacy locations nationwide.