While the common peak in flu season runs from October to February, Hardy Street CVS Pharmacy employees want to raise awareness of the need for annual flu shots.
The pharmacy has a section of the store dedicated to flu vaccinations with sign-up sheets and a neon-green poster board reading “Flu Shots Here.”
Pharmacist Tim Bernal said flu shots are given from August to February at CVS.
“The flu shot covers whatever strains are prevalent that current season,” Bernal said. “When you get the flu shot it takes about three weeks to produce antibodies.”
The Centers for Disease Control determines which strains are the most susceptible to the different flu viruses each year. Flu vaccines are designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will be the most common during the upcoming season.
CVS received its first batch of vaccinations in August.
According to information on the CDC’s website, this year’s flu vaccine is made to protect against three viruses: “an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus, an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus (B/Victoria lineage).”
Symptoms of the flu include body aches, a high-grade fever, chills, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.
Local CVS pharmacy technician Kay Sarr said there are several ways people put themselves at risk for the virus.
“Stress can lower your immune system,” she said. “Also, close contact with sick individuals is an easy way to pick up the virus. Then, smoking cigarettes weakens tiny disease-fighting hairs inside nasal passages and lungs, which trap and dispose of germs.”
The Hardy Street CVS Pharmacy is a high-volume store filling an average of 215 prescriptions daily, according to Bernal.
Bernal said receiving flu shots at the pharmacy is already a prominent activity at the store.
“In August, we had about seven people a week come get flu shots,” he said. “Now we have a goal of 25 persons a week taking precautions. It’ll jump up to about 30 people a week in the beginning of October.”
Bernal said people who generally get the flu shot most often are those “in high-risk jobs: anybody in the medical field or dealing with the public. Their work typically offers flu shots for its employees.”