The importance of a flu shot during a pandemic
By Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
Each year, health experts encourage people to get a flu shot. It can reduce your risk of getting the flu and infecting those around you. As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continues into the fall, it creates the question of whether getting a flu shot is more important this year than it has been in recent history.
We spoke with Amy Amond, Senior Specialist of Managed Care for Giant Eagle. As a pharmacist, she understands how flu shots can protect people, especially the most vulnerable populations. Amond says the sooner you can get a flu shot this year, the better.
“The CDC believes that both flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 are both going to be spreading. So getting a flu vaccine is more important this year than ever,” she explained.
Amond says this year in particular, it is important to get a flu shot not only to reduce your risk of contracting the virus, but also to help preserve healthcare resources at a time when they are stretched thin. She added that you should consider the health of older populations and those who are immunocompromised. While eating healthy and choosing the right foods for your diet are very important, getting a flu shot can also further encourage a healthy lifestyle.
“Sometimes getting a flu shot isn’t just for you, but it’s for the people around you,” Amond said.
There are several populations of people who are especially encouraged to get a flu shot.
“People 65 and older should really get a flu shot because, often, they have other medical conditions that can be exacerbated by the flu. Children six months of age and older to five or six, they should also get the flu shot because, of course, their immune systems are still growing,” explained Amond. “We always recommend pregnant women getting a flu shot because obviously you wouldn’t want to put that strain on someone who’s pregnant. People who have medical conditions should definitely get a flu shot because, a lot of times, getting influenza or the flu will just complicate whatever problem they already have.”
Many pharmacies and grocery stores offer flu shots. At Giant Eagle, any store with a pharmacy has flu shots available.
“You can walk in at any time and receive a flu shot. If you prefer, you can call ahead and the pharmacist there can have the vaccine ready for you, if you’re already an established patient.”
Administration forms are available online to help with shorter wait times and to minimize contact. Additionally, Giant Eagle is offering a $5 off coupon for groceries after you receive a flu shot at one of its stores.
Amond says most major insurances cover flu shots, but you can pay out of pocket. A Giant Eagle pharmacist will explain any costs to you before administering the vaccine.
If you have questions about the flu shot or other vaccines, call your local Giant Eagle Pharmacy.