By Rosa Hernandez
Every year in the United States around 42,000 adults and 300 children die from vaccine-preventable infections including influenza, pneumococcal disease and hepatitis B. Most American adults are inadequately vaccinated, and as many as 25 percent of children do not complete their primary series of immunizations by the age of two. As a result of this, the United States Department of Health and Human Services included in Healthy People 2020, a set of goals aimed at achieving progress in major areas of public health, the following goal: “Increase immunization rates and reduce vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Each year, the government, hospitals, physician offices and pharmacies across the country attempt to make it very convenient to become immunized against a variety of infectious diseases. October marks the beginning of flu season, the administration of the latest strain of influenza virus vaccine, which has become a major focus in public health, and American Pharmacists Month. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone at least 6 months of age. There are currently three types of inactivated flu shots available. There is a regular flu shot approved for ages 6 months and older, a high dose flu shot approved for ages 65 and older, and an intradermal flu shot approved for ages 18 – 65. There is also a live, weakened form of the vaccine available as an intranasal spray and approved for ages 2 – 49, if not pregnant.
At UTMB Health, trained nurses administer free flu shots to all employees in order to prevent infection and transmission among patients and coworkers. Your local pharmacist can also play an important role in immunizations. At least 36 states, including Texas, allow for properly trained pharmacists to administer immunizations either through individual prescriptions or through standing order protocols with a designated physician. Vaccine administration by a pharmacist can occur in the local pharmacy, hospital or long-term care facility, and through public immunization clinics. Aside from administering immunizations, pharmacists can play an important role in promoting the importance of keeping up-to-date with immunizations through patient screening and counseling, and through public education. By visiting your local pharmacist, you can be informed of specific immunization requirements in order to optimally protect yourself and your family members.
Immunizations available at your local pharmacy
HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella)
Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
Td (Tetanus, Diphtheria)
Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis)