It’s Time to Get Vaccinated. Health Mart Can Help.

Flu season and the updated COVID-19 boosters are here – so are community pharmacists.

Read time: 4 minutes

We’re currently approaching the third flu season that overlaps with the COVID-19 pandemic, so it may be tempting to have that “been there, done that” feeling. But resisting that temptation is important for protecting yourself and your loved ones from both of these infectious respiratory diseases.

"With kids going back to school, businesses resuming more in-person operations, and more activities moving indoors as cooler weather returns, there’s an increased risk of catching and spreading respiratory infections,” says Nancy Lyons, BS Pharm, MBA, CDCES, vice president, chief pharmacy officer for Health Mart. “Getting your flu and COVID-19 vaccines today is important for keeping yourself and your community safe and healthy as we enter flu season and continue to adapt to pandemic life.”

As one of the largest distributors of seasonal flu vaccines in the U.S., McKesson stands ready to support what health experts predict could be a potentially severe winter season. During the 2020-2021 flu season, McKesson shipped more doses of seasonal flu vaccines to customers throughout the U.S. than it did in any given season in its history. At the same time, Health Mart pharmacies – a franchise network of independent, locally owned pharmacies supported by McKesson – have played a pivotal role in helping vaccinate members of their communities, many of which are located in rural and underserved areas, against the seasonal flu and COVID-19 viruses.

Health Mart Pharmacies are a trusted resource for vaccine information and access

Rising to the public health challenge of vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible, many Health Mart pharmacies expanded the role of their pharmacy technicians, allowing properly trained technicians to administer COVID-19 vaccines under the direction of a pharmacist, when they became available in 2020. These technicians are now also authorized to administer flu shots in many areas.

This approach provides two benefits to the pharmacies and the communities they serve. First, it increases the number of people trained and authorized to give vaccines, which is important for making sure that community members can get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Second, it reduces the amount of time that pharmacists need to spend administering vaccines, which allows them to spend more quality time addressing their patients’ other healthcare needs, including providing routine health screenings, recommending other appropriate vaccines, managing multiple medications, understanding prescription drug coverage, and taking advantage of lower-cost medication options.

Experts warn of a more challenging 2022 flu season

The 2020 and 2021 flu seasons were relatively mild. Health experts believe this happened because people were limiting their activities, social distancing, increasing hand-washing and other hygiene practices and masking to protect themselves from COVID-19 – which also prevented the spread of flu. However, they also predict that this flu season may be more severe as people return to more normal activities and social interactions and wear masks less often.

The risk of a more severe flu season, which is occurring now in Australia, arrives while COVID-19 remains a very real health challenge. But it also arrives as the new updated, bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccines have been authorized in the U.S.

The FDA recommends the new, updated COVID-19 booster vaccine for people who completed a primary vaccine series or received a previous booster vaccination at least two months ago. The updated Moderna booster vaccine is currently authorized for use in people at least six years old, and the updated Pfizer-BioNTech booster is currently authorized for use in people at least five years old.

“These updated vaccines provide better protection against the Omicron variants that have caused the most recent waves of COVID-19,” Lyons notes. “According to the CDC, it’s also safe to get both the flu vaccine and the new updated COVID-19 booster vaccine at the same time. Additionally, your pharmacist can help you determine if you are eligible for other vaccines that can protect you against additional viral and bacterial infections like tetanus, shingles and pneumonia.”

As a part of the Health Mart Digital Pharmacy service, which was launched last October for Health Mart Pharmacies, patients can now download the Health Mart Pharmacy App and link to their closest pharmacy or visit HealthMart.com to receive information about vaccines from any location. And scheduling an appointment at a local Health Mart Pharmacy location is easy online or through the app.

“Protecting yourself and your family against COVID-19, flu and other vaccine-preventable illnesses doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort,” she adds. “But staying healthy will give you more time to spend on the people and activities that you value most.”

Visit healthmart.com to learn more.