U.S. pharmacy chains are putting a lot of pressure on flu vaccinations when the season kicks in, hoping to curb tens of thousands of cases that could coincide with a second wave of coronavirus infections.
CVS Health Corp, one of the largest U.S. pharmacies, said it is working to ensure it has enough doses for an expected increase in customers seeking shots to protect against seasonal flu.
Rival chain Rite Aid Corp says it ordered 40 percent more vaccine doses to meet expected demand,
Meanwhile, Walmart Inc and Walgreens Boots Alliance said they also expect more Americans to search for these shots.
It comes on the heels of a recent Reuters poll that found two-thirds of Americans plan to get a flu shot in the fall – although a third in another study said they don’t want a shot protecting them from coronavirus.
U.S. pharmacies are gearing up for a wave of customers requesting the flu vaccine as 60% of Americans said they plan or are sure to get the shot in the fall (file image)
NHealth experts say the flu shot won’t prevent you from contracting the coronavirus, but it could help medical professionals better fight the outbreak. Pictured: EMTs transport a patient from a nursing home to an emergency bedroom at St Joseph’s Hospital in Yonkers, NY, April 20
Before the poll, the team questioned 4,428 adults between May 13 and 19 asked questions about their views on vaccinations.
About 60 percent of American adults said they plan to have the flu vaccine in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Forty percent of respondents said they had a flu shot every year for the past five years, while 30 percent said they had not had one during that time.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the vaccine for anyone over six months old
The vaccine doesn’t protect people from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, but it could help health professionals better detect cases when people come in with nonspecific symptoms, such as fever and cough.
Doctor also adds that it can help prevent getting a flu strain that makes you more susceptible to coronavirus
“This fall and winter, we’re facing a double-barreled flu and COVID attack. Flu is the one you can do something about, ‘says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Last year, drug manufacturers produced nearly 170 million doses of the flu vaccine, according to the CDC.
There were up to 740,000 hospitalizations and 62,000 deaths in the 2019-2020 flu season, which ended last month, the CDC said.
While health insurance usually covers the flu shot with a doctor and other groups offer free flu vaccine clinics, the adult vaccine costs about $ 40.
Worldwide revenue for influenza vaccines is about $ 5 billion, according to Wall Street firm Bernstein, and in the U.S., every additional percent percent of Americans who receive the vaccine are worth $ 75 million in revenue for drug manufacturers.
CDC director Robert Redfield has said that flu and COVID-19 together can take a heavier toll on Americans than the first coronavirus outbreak that started this winter.
Some experts said creative ways should be developed to ensure that people are vaccinated against flu, as patients are less likely to see their doctors in person for fear of coronavirus infection in medical offices.
Pharmacies, public health clinics, and other flu shot providers may need to develop drive-up clinics – popular with COVID-19 diagnostic tests – for flu vaccines, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease.
“My goal is for every vaccination dose made to go into someone’s arm to protect it. I don’t want vaccines on the shelves or in doctors’ offices, ”Messonnier said in an interview.
One reason for Americans’ reluctance to get the flu shot is that it doesn’t always prevent disease.
This is because scientists selected the strains of flu targeted by the vaccine months in advance, which do not always fit perfectly with the dominant flu strains that season.
But the shots reliably reduce hospital admissions every year, according to experts.
“Even if it protects 35 to 40 percent of the population, it’s a lot better than zero,” said flu expert Dr. Michael Osterholm from the University of Minnesota.
In a survey commissioned by CVS Health between January and May, consumers who said they definitely or probably get a flu shot rose from 34 percent to 65 percent.
They also said that they would go to pharmacies more often and less often to a doctor’s office or health centers.
Some U.S. physicians are also considering clinics in parks and community centers and even home visits for vulnerable patients, said David Ross, vice president of commercial operations for North America at Seqirus.
“If we look at immunization next fall, it will play a huge role in this fight against COVID-19,” said Ross.