Teddy Bear Flu Clinic

On Monday, October 23rd and Friday, October 27th, 2017, two groups of student pharmacists from the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy volunteered at Sacred Heart Daycare Center, in Charleston, WV.  The event, the Teddy Bear Flu Clinic, allowed student pharmacists to pass out teddy bears to students ranging from ages 5 – 12 years old, to show them that getting the flu shot is not scary.   The student pharmacists explained to the children that flu shots are nothing to be afraid of, and, in fact, they are important to get every year.  The student pharmacists allowed the children to draw back a syringe (without a needle) and give their teddy bear a “flu shot.”  After each child gave their bear a shot, the student pharmacists helped fill out “prescriptions” for the bears, indicating what kind of love and care the bear would need afterward.  The children were very enthusiastic and enjoyed learning about flu shots and why they are so important.  In fact, many of the children were excited to go get their flu shot next!

This event showed that student pharmacists are always willing to give their time back to their community.  With pharmacists being more accessible than any other healthcare professional, it shows the importance of their vaccination privileges.  As of right now, pharmacists in West Virginia have the ability to prescribe and administer vaccines, but are limited by an age restriction of 18 years or older.  It is important for us continue to support pharmacists in gaining more vaccination privileges.

We would like to thank the Student Society of Health-Systems Pharmacy (SSHP) for organizing this event as well as providing the teddy bears and certificates.  Additional thanks are extended towards Sacred Heart Daycare for allowing us to come teach your children about influenza vaccinations and the importance to getting vaccines.

Flu Vaccines Myths Vs Facts and Your Pharmacist

The flu is a serious disease that could be deadly in some cases if the symptoms are not effectively managed. No two flu seasons are the same. Every year the is a mutation in the flu virus thus, it is pertinent for us to get a flu shot yearly during the flu season to avoid getting the flu.

In the United States the flu season starts from early October-May. Anyone can be infected by the flu, not only the immunocompromised. Estimate from the CDC website states, “flu-related hospitalizations since 2010 ranged from 140,000 to 710,000, while flu-related deaths are estimated to have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000”. This number will increase if individuals are not taking Flu vaccines during the flu seasons.

How can you protect yourself from getting the flu?

The only way to protect yourself against the flu is to get the flu vaccine every year as soon as they become available during the flu season  

You can go to your local pharmacy to get a flu shot, no need scheduling an appointment with your physician.

Common and not serious side effects with taking a flu vaccine are :

  •       Nausea
  •       Aches
  •       Redness, swelling and soreness at site of injection.

Serious and less common side effects are:

  •        Swelling around eyes
  •       Difficulty breathing
  •       Hives
  •       Dizziness
  •       High fever

One of the biggest draw backs that people often are mistaken on is that they are subjected to believe that they could get the flu from the flu vaccine. This is a myth and one of the biggest myths that needs to be corrected. The facts state that it is impossible to get the flu from a flu vaccine. This is in part due to the fact that the vaccine contains a strain of the virus that is inactivated which means it is biologically incapable of producing the flu within the body.

Another myth, people often feel as if they do not need a flu vaccine every year because the one they got last year should be sufficient and do the job. The truth behind the matter is that your body’s immunity to the virus becomes weaker each year and a yearly injection of the vaccine keeps your immune system up to date in producing antibodies to fight the illness. Then in addition there is new strains that come out every year and these strains are analyzed and the vaccines vary from year to year. So, each vaccine is different each year and is effective against different strains which you may get.

Some people often feel that the flu vaccine is not useful for them because it was intended for the very young and the elderly generations. This once again is a myth. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that anyone from 6 months of age and on can receive a flu shot. The young and the old may be at an increased risk for catching the general flu but the shot is designed for everyone who wants to avoid the risk of catching it during the general season.

As an individual, you may be concerned that mercury is being used as a preservative within the flu shot vaccines. This is in part true and in part myth. The myth is that mercury is used in all flu shot vaccines. Mercury is only used in multi-dose vials. When an individual goes to a pharmacy or doctor’s office they use the single dose vials which are intended for one time use and do not have mercury in them to preserve it because it will not be stored for a long time.

If you have any questions at all one may seek out their local pharmacist and ask any given questions for clarifications and hopefully become vaccinated. Your pharmacist is one of the most convenient people you have access to that can make a difference in your life. Speak to them and become educated, medicated, and vaccinated.