Thursday, August 23, 2012

Flu Shots, Already?

Well, here we go again. Flu shots are available, and we are starting to stick patients in their deltoid, again. Doesn't it seem early to be shooting the dead influenza vaccine into people's shoulders. All my patients are asking, "are flu shots early this year?" Yes, and we have tons of the vaccine!
I tell them, "no, same time as last year, and the CDC recommends to get them as soon as they are available. Would you like to get one!"
They say, "how long will it take, how much is it, is it going to hurt and will I get sick from the shot?"
I say, "15 to 20 minutes," the price, "it depends, and usually not."
Patients say, "ok, let's get it over with."
I say, "left or right arm. If you flex your muscle, it will probably hurt. If you stay relaxed, it does not hurt as bad. Always use the muscle by doing exercises that work the deltoid."
The symptoms you get from the flu shot are minimal and weak flu-like symptoms. I usually recommend acetaminophen if you have some symptoms of fever and body ache.
We received our flu shots at the end of July, and we started injecting our associates and patients the first week of August. Fluzone and Fluvirin are the two brands of injections we use. We give Fluzone HD for patients that have Medicare Part B. Oh and by the way, Medicare Part B pays for it entirely! It is essentially free for ages 65 and up. Medicare advantage only pays for the regular flu shot. If you have insurance, we need to see your insurance card and process it to see if the flu shot is covered.
"What is flu shot HD," you say? It is the influenza vaccine High Dose. It is supposed to illicit a quicker immune response, so the patient is protected from the flu faster than the regular flu shot. I believe you will have a full immune response and be protected from the flu in 7 to 10 days with Fluzone HD. The regular flu shot takes 2 weeks to be protected against the influenza virus.
For 2012-2013, flu shots have 2 new variants to the previous flu shot of 2011-2012. We did not have a huge breakout last year. Probably because most people received their flu shot and there was no crazy variation at the end of the flu season. The bird flu or avian flu of 2008 and the swine flu of 2009 caused major flu pandemics. They caused shortages of flu shots and Tamiflu, which fights the flu virus. The past couple of years we have had enough flu shots and no shortage. A lot of people have been getting their flu shots at local pharmacies and taking advantage of the easy access. Pharmacies are able to give shingles vaccine shots and pneumococcal vaccine shots. I will elaborate on Zostavax, the shingles vaccine, in another post. Don't forget to get your whooping cough vaccine, the pertussis shot. Elderly patients about to have new grandchildren need this pertussis vaccination. Again, most pharmacies have pharmacists that are certified immunizers. Visit your local pharmacy to get your vaccinations, today! By the way, you can get two shots in one day. It has to be a dead virus, like the influenza vaccine, and a live virus, like shingles vaccine. Two dead viruses like the flu shot and pneumococcal vaccine.


  1. a couple of things about immunizations. You can get several shots in one day if you are so inclined. as long as they are on the same day, you are not limited to two. It is recommended that live vaccines are separated by one month, UNLESS they are administered on the same day. Live vaccines include Shingles ( zostavax) MMR, and Yellow Fever. killed vaccines include most everything else. A word of advice. the manufacturer of Zostavax does not recommend the administration of Zostavax and Pneumovax on the same day. Titers of Zostavax are significantly lower for zostavax when given with pneumovax. This is in contrast to the CDC which says its ok. My opinion is to go with the studies. Zostavax is a very expensive vaccine, why risk shorting the patient of optimum coverage when the research shows a problem?

  2. I don't recommend getting several vaccinations in one day. I agree with you on the Pneumovax and Zostavax. I recommend that the patient should not get these 2 at the same time. I recommend at most one live and one dead vaccine per patient per 4 weeks. Thanks for the comment, Pharmacy Chick!