Flu Now Widespread in Alabama

Pharmacy student administers a flu shot

December 6, 2019

AUBURN, Alabama – The flu is now considered widespread in Alabama, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With the status, health care officials encourage people to get their flu shots if they have not already done so.

Students in Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy are spreading awareness of the virus and the importance of immunization through programs like the American Pharmacists Association Operation Immunization.

“By getting the flu shot, we are protecting both ourselves and others in the community,” said Holly Clark, a member of the Harrison School of Pharmacy Class of 2021. “By promoting widespread vaccination, we are able to prevent diseases from affecting those who are not able to be vaccinated themselves, a practice called herd immunity.”

Receiving the vaccine is particularly important for children, those whose immune system may be compromised (cancer patients, those with HIV/AIDs, recent transplant recipients) and those with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, sever obesity and lung disease like asthma or COPD.

“Everyone over 6 months old without a contraindication should get a flu shot,” said Alexandra Steege, a member of the Class of 2021. “Your pharmacist is easy to reach and ready to help, so reach out to them if you need more information.”

The vaccine varies from year to year, depending on the strains that are most prevalent. The vaccine is an inactivated influenza virus that induces specific antibody production in your body to fight off the virus when you are exposed or before you know you have been exposed. Because the strains vary, people should get the vaccination every year.

There are also some common misconceptions about the flu vaccine. Contrary to some opinions, it is never too late to get the vaccine. The vaccine also does not cause the flu or other conditions, such as autism.

“The flu vaccine does not cause the flu, but you should stay away from people with the flu for two weeks after your flu shot though, or you may get the flu because your immunity is not built up yet,” said Steege. “The flu vaccine does not cause autism, and lastly pregnant women should get the flu vaccine even more than non-pregnant women because complications of the flu virus can be more severe. Talk to your pharmacist if you have any more questions.”

The vaccine is available at most pharmacies and physician’s offices. Many insurance carriers, including Medicaid and Medicare, typically cover the cost of the immunization. Pharmacies will typically work with your insurance provider and may even offer incentives, such as gift cards. The pharmacist can answer questions about insurance coverage and the availability of the immunization.

“You can get the flu shot at nearly any local pharmacy,” said Clark. “Pharmacists are here for the patients. Talking to your pharmacist and getting your flu shot from them is not taking up their time, they are there for you.”

For more information, visit the Alabama Department of Public Health (alabamapublichealth.gov/influenza) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov/flu).


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About the Harrison School of Pharmacy

Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. The School’s commitment to world-class scholarship and interdisciplinary research speaks to Auburn’s overarching Carnegie R1 designation that places Auburn among the top 100 doctoral research universities in the nation. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

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Last Updated: December 6, 2019