Thursday, November 14, 2013

Flu Shots

I administered flu shots all day long today. My manager had set up an appointment sheet months ago with 5-minute interval appointment slots. It wasn't until the appointment booking log was all filled out that he realized that he meant them to be 10-minute intervals. The administering part doesn't take long. Clean, jab, dispose needle, apply bandaid. But, because some flu shots came in multi-dose vials, I had to load them beforehand. And I couldn't pre-load them too far in advance due to reasons of wastage and stability. Then there were the pre-filled syringes. And then there were the ones that are saved for those who are 65+. And then the difference between public and private. Not to mention consent forms. Anyway, just sorting those things out makes the 5-minute appointment slots pretty tight. I knew I was in for a busy day. I had two chairs, one on each side of me... and I swivelled back and forth, poking people as they sat down. "Okay, NEXT!". 

Here in B.C. Canada, pharmacists have the choice to go through training and be licensed as an injection pharmacist. Certain injections can be administered right in your local community pharmacy. I went through my training maybe five years ago, just to broaden my practice. As choatic and crazy as the day went, I really enjoyed it. Not the idea of inflicting pain on others, but the nice break from the dispensary. Everyone was grateful for my service because I had just saved them from a two-hour wait-time to see their doctor for a flu shot. And even though I was hella busy, I still had time while prepping the syringes, to take this photo.

My thoughts on getting the flu shot (and not just because I administer them) : I do think everyone should get the flu shot. I do think they work. And no, I do not think they cause the flu. Very often, after a flu shot, people experience flu-like symptoms because their bodies are working to make antibodies that will in future help fight flu viruses. And even if you do happen to get the flu after a flu shot, it doesn't mean the shot didn't work. There are many different strains for the flu, and the vaccine covers only certain strains. It is impossible to develop a cure-all flu vaccine because well, they are viruses... and viruses mutate so quickly to create new strains, that you cannot develop a vaccine to cure all. And that is why it is necessary to get one every year. The vaccine you get can protect you up to 70% from the flu. It is especially important for the little ones and the elderly because their immune system is comparatively weaker than the average adult. What information that doesn't get passed around is how many end up hospitalized, and even dead, because of the flu every year. 

A lot of people are skeptical of the flu shot, and sometimes, I don't argue. Everyone of course make up their own minds on what they want to believe, and very often, the media and rumours from family and friends make up a big part of their decision. I am not saying that vaccines don't come with a risk. Everything you do normally does. But the chances of you getting a major side effect versus hospitalization and deaths are highly outnumbered, and people need to take chances with better knowledge. 

On a different note, did you know that with intramuscular injections ( just like the flu shot that you get in your arm ), they are done with one-inch needles? And did you know, the entire one-inch goes into your arm? 

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