Valley Pharmacy owner talks to Kiwanis about flu shot

Published 6:00 pm Friday, November 30, 2018

VALLEY — Health care professionals are placing much greater emphasis now on illness prevention than they once did.

Valley Pharmacy co-owner Angie Moore, RPh, talked about this at Wednesday’s noon hour meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley.

“There’s a focus on wellness,” she said. “Rather than just treating illnesses, we are doing things to keep you well.”

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Fundamental in this is the need for adults to keep their vaccinations up to date. Moore said it’s important to get a flu shot once a year. According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 80,000 Americans died of the flu in 2017.

“The flu can lead to hospitalization or death,” she said. “Everyone six months of age and older needs a flu shot.”

Generally, the older a person gets, the greater the need for a higher dose flu shot. Drug companies are now encouraging older people to get a senior shot once a year.

Moore said that someone shouldn’t get a flu shot if they’ve been sick recently, if they have a known allergy to vaccination or if they have had a rare condition known as Guillain-Barre syndrome.

“It’s best to get a flu shot when the new ones come out,” she added. “It’s good to get it before you have been exposed to the flu. The current season will continue until March or April. If you haven’t gotten one this year you need to go ahead and get one.”

Viruses constantly mutate. Because of that, each year’s flu virus is different.

“Last year’s flu shot won’t help you this year,” Moore said.

Researchers make educated guesses at what’s best to put in each year’s shot. It’s possible to get the flu even if you’ve gotten a shot for this year.

“If you get the full-blown flu it’s because you were exposed to it before you got the shot,” Moore said.

Moore said there are some poor excuses for not getting a flu shot.

“Today’s flu shot is quick, painless and it’s over,” Moore added. “It’s not bad, and you need it. At most pharmacies, it can be done in 10 to 15 minutes.”

While getting an annual flu shot is a high priority, it’s also a good idea to consider getting vaccines for pneumonia and shingles. The latest pneumonia shot, Pneumovax 23, is the first pneumococcal vaccine developed from a capsular polysaccharide and is an important landmark in medical history. As a result, there have been important reductions in the incidence, morbidity and mortality from invasive pneumococcal disease. The current pneumonia shot is recommended for adults who are 65 years of age and older, adults with serious, long-term health problems, smokers, children two years of age and older with serious long-term health problems. It gives protection for five years or more.

Moore said that a new vaccine for shingles, Shingrix, has replaced Zostavax as the preferred vaccine for shingles.

“It has an effectiveness of 90 percent compared to 60 percent for Zostavax,” Moore said.

With Zostavax, it was possible for an adult to give chicken pox to a child, provided there had been close contact between them.

“That won’t happen with the new shot,” said Moore. “The new one is a two-part shot. You get a second one several weeks after getting the first one. Shingrix is recommended for those who are 50 years of age and older. Zostavax was recommended for those 60 and older. Eventually, there won’t be a need to have shingles shots, but for now we need to keep doing them.”

A vaccine known as Tdap can protect against several illnesses such as tetanus, pertussis (or whooping cough) and diphtheria. On the plus side, vaccination has just about wiped out diphtheria. “We need to keep vaccinated to keep it from coming back,” Moore said. “Adults need a Tdap shot once every 10 years. Pregnant women need it in their third trimester.”

Moore frequently gives flu shots at Valley Pharmacy. Throughout the years, she has gotten a reputation for giving an easy shot.

“I don’t know how I acquired it, but people are always telling me that,” Moore said.

Anyone planning to travel to a foreign country needs to know about vaccines they may need. Moore said that people need to pay attention to how many Americans died from the flu last year.

“They weren’t all elderly people or sick people,” she said. “Many were young and healthy.”