(WVLT) -- According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 5 to 20 percent of the US population is infected with influenza every year, and over the past 31 years, annual influenza related deaths have ranged from 3,000 to 49,000. The CDC recommends patients receive a flu shot every year, because last year's flu shot will not protect you again.
Seasonal flu viruses are constantly changing and the vaccines are updated annually to protect against the most recent and commonly circulating viruses. Consistent with the recommendations by the CDC, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) recommends that all persons six months of age and older be vaccinated each year.
Getting a flu shot each year is the best way to protect yourself from infection. Across the country, more than 150,000 pharmacists have completed training as immunization providers for their communities. In all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, pharmacists are authorized to administer vaccines.
A pharmacist goes through six years or more of school, depending on his/her area of specialization. In addition to their specialized training as medication experts, pharmacists can go through a formal training program to become certified to administer immunizations. "Pharmacists are trained for over 6 years in school to become pharmacists and they do receive specialized training in their schooling to become immunizers," says Maria Marzella Mantione, an Associate Clinical Professor of Community Pharmacy Practice at St. John's University College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions. Formal training helps ensure reliable and consistent immunization care for patients.
The local pharmacy is a convenient and easily accessible place to get your flu shot. Maria says, "Most pharmacies are open 7 days a week and and almost all of them offer sometimes 24 hours a day convenience. At least all of them are open from early in the morning until late in the evening and usually pharmacies don't require appointments to get your flu shots. So many pharmacies offer you to come in at a convenient time and get your flu shot." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that pharmacists administered more than 20% of the influenza vaccinations during the 2010-11 season.
And don't worry, the vaccine you get from your pharmacists is the exact same one you would receive from your doctor.
The flu shot isn't the only vaccine your pharmacist can give you. To find out which ones your pharmacy can give you, talk to your local pharmacist.
For more information on getting flu shots from your pharmacist, visit pharmacist.com/flushot