Your Health in Your Hands: Staying Healthy This Season

McKesson and Health Mart pharmacies support the well-being of communities and offer seasonal vaccinations.

Read Time: 3 minutes

As the days begin to grow shorter and temperatures get colder, health officials are gearing up for what could be an unprecedented season of viral illnesses. With an increase in influenza and COVID-19 cases, public health agencies are urging individuals to stay vigilant and take advantage of available preventive measures.

But there’s another virus that has long wreaked havoc on healthcare systems in tandem with the seasonal flu: Respiratory Syncytial Virus, commonly known as RSV.

Historically, RSV has been considered a common illness in children, but it can pose serious health risks to older adults, leading to severe respiratory infections.

Here’s the good news: In a significant development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that adults ages 60 years and older can receive an RSV vaccine if eligible and deemed appropriate by a healthcare provider. Introducing RSV vaccines for this age group marks a significant step forward in preventing RSV-related complications and hospitalizations.

As one of the largest distributors of seasonal flu vaccines in the U.S., McKesson is supporting the distribution and administration of immunizations targeting many of these viruses, including the seasonal flu, RSV and the new COVID-19 vaccines that have been updated for the 2023-2024 season.

And Health Mart pharmacies – a franchise network of independently owned and operated pharmacies supported by McKesson – may serve as a destination for many to receive these vaccines as they become available in community pharmacies across the U.S.

“Independent pharmacies that are a part of Health Mart, play an important role in maintaining their community’s health,” said Nancy Lyons, BSPharm, MBA, CDCES, chief pharmacy officer, Health Mart. “As one of the most accessible and trusted healthcare providers, pharmacists are well equipped to educate their communities this season and year-round on how to protect themselves against numerous viruses. It’s important for individuals to know the risks and benefits of all vaccines. That’s why Health Mart pharmacists take time to educate their patients and provide personalized care.”

Supporting the Commercialization of COVID-19 Vaccines

McKesson is uniquely positioned to accommodate the receiving, storage and distribution of all three new single-strain commercial vaccines offered by Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax for the 2023-2024 season. It’s a role the company has played since 2020 as the U.S. government’s exclusive centralized distributor for frozen and refrigerated COVID-19 vaccines.

“In a commercialized model, the COVID-19 vaccines will be available for direct purchase through the wholesale distributors and shipped to pharmacies and providers across the United States, similar to how flu vaccines are distributed,” says Ammie McAsey, senior vice president, Customer Distribution Experience, McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical.

Through our U.S. Pharmaceutical and Medical-Surgical business segments, McKesson is equipped to centrally store the vaccines at the proper temperatures, ultra-frozen, frozen or refrigerated, and is working with Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax to help handle customer demand.

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones

As the nation looks ahead to this fall and winter season, the convergence of new COVID-19 vaccines, seasonal flu shots and RSV vaccines for older adults serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting the well-being of yourself and others.

The CDC recommends:

  • Everyone six months of age or older get an annual flu vaccination
  • Adults 60 years and older should discuss with their health care provider if the RSV vaccine is appropriate for them
  • Everyone six months of age and older receive the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine

Consult with your pharmacist or healthcare provider to determine what’s best for yourself and your family.

“Getting vaccinated against these respiratory viruses is key to reducing the risk of spreading them to loved ones and others, especially as we gather together during the holidays,” says Lyons. “More importantly, if you feel sick, avoid close contact with others to avoid the possible spread of any of the viruses. With collective efforts, we can contribute to a healthier and safer season for all.”