PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Because coronavirus and influenza will be circulating together this year, flu shot providers are getting ready.
“This year, I think it’s more important than ever to make sure you stay healthy during cold and flu season,” says AHN Pediatric Alliance pediatrician, Dr. Joe Aracri. “There is what’s called co-infection. So you can actually be infected with flu and coronavirus at the same time. With flu, you have a lot of coughing, and that could end up spreading the coronavirus if you’re asymptomatic from that.”
“We expect there to be an increase in volume of requests for vaccine,” says Asti Drug pharmacist Chris Antypas.
But because we are in the middle of a pandemic, procedures will be different.
For example, if you use a pharmacy, it might be closed to walk-ins.
“Part of the convenience of going to the pharmacy to get your vaccine is you can just walk in at any time and get it. So we want to balance that access with being responsible at protecting our patients, as well as our staff at this time,” says Antypas.
Many places, including the Allegheny County Health Department, will be requiring appointments.
“By making appointments, we will decrease the flow of patients going through. We are looking at ways of making sure everyone is masked when they come in for their flu shot. We’re planning on having waiting areas set up so that each family will come in, go to the next box, which will be six feet from the previous family, and kind of move through that way. Making sure there’s one way in to the facility, and a separate exit, so that people are not passing each other,” says Dr. Aracri. “We are going to have to expand our office hours, and make sure more flu clinics are available.”
If you’re a parent, you may want to get immunized at the pediatrician’s office with your child.
Flu shots at your workplace may not be an option this year.
“They are still concerned about the health and well-being of their employees, despite the fact that they may not be in an office setting. So they are talking about vouchers, using a voucher system, to allow their employees to go to a pharmacy, for example, to get their vaccine at no cost,” Antypas says.
Some places will offer vaccines in their parking lots, though that makes Dr. Aracri a little nervous.
“I’m really concerned about small kids in the car moving whenever a needle is in their arm,” Dr. Aracri says.
“We may or may not have a coronavirus vaccine this fall. Most likely that’s many months away,” says KDKA Health Editor Dr. Maria Simbra, “But there is a vaccine against the flu, which you may be getting from the convenience of your own car.”