Updated
October 10th, 2017

AAFP Says 'We Will Get You a Flu Shot'

Pharmacist influenza vaccination services create value for payors and reduce pressure on health systems

Although a higher percentage of Americans are receiving influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations, the rates across all population segments are not high enough, according to public health officials.

The influenza vaccination rate for the 2016-2017 season the rate was just 46.8 percent.

"I believe the words 'just' and 'flu' should not be in the same sentence," said Patsy Stinchfield, R.N., M.S., a pediatric nurse practitioner at Children's Minnesota who specializes in vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Unless you're going to say, 'I just got my flu vaccine.”

A panel of physicians and infectious disease experts participated in a discussion hosted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases on September 28, 2017, to stress the importance of influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations for all age groups and discuss some of the barriers to increasing vaccination rates.

The panelists emphasized that physicians, other medical professionals and public health officials need to educate all patients about the importance of vaccination.

Carmen Catizone, D.Ph., executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy said, "In fact, today, more patients are receiving their vaccinations from pharmacists than other healthcare providers."

Between 2007 and 2013, the number of influenza vaccinations dispensed in community pharmacies increased from 3.2 to 20.9 million.

AAFP President Michael Munger, M.D., of Overland Park, Kan., told AAFP News that "There are so many ways to get a flu shot, including health fairs, the pharmacy, a grocery store or a doctor's office. Sometimes physicians just assume that a patient got their immunization somewhere and it's not recorded."

Dr. Munger noted that vaccination rates are lowest in the 18-49 age category at 34 percent.

"It should become more of an expectation," Munger said. "It shouldn't be presented as, 'Would you like a flu shot?'

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Instead we should say, 'We will get you a flu shot.'"

The panel also noted that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends pneumococcal vaccination for all infants and toddlers, as well as for adults 65 and older and those with specific chronic health conditions.

CDC estimates that about 900,000 Americans get pneumococcal pneumonia each year and about 5 to 7 percent die from it.

Adults with asthma who get pneumococcal pneumonia are at risk for additional complications including asthma exacerbation and invasive pneumococcal disease.

Katelynn Dodd, M.P.H., an epidemiologist in the Respiratory Health Division, NIOSH, said “To increase the number of adults with asthma who are vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, we recommend that healthcare providers verify if their patients who have asthma have received a pneumococcal vaccine and offer the vaccine to those not vaccinated.”

According to the CDC, vaccination is the safest, most effective way to protect yourself from getting pneumococcal disease.

There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines, conjugate vaccines and polysaccharide vaccines.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides private sector vaccine prices for general information.

Vaccine discount information can be found here.