CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Along with school supplies and routine physicals to start the school year, many parents are considering flu shots as part of their back to school process.
Flu shots are available a few weeks earlier than usual, and there has been an advancement in this year’s vaccine.
“Good news this year is all flu products that we are carrying at Discount Drug Mart are protecting against four strains of flu, two A strains and two B strains,” said Director of Pharmacy Operations Jason Briscoe.
He said normally they contain three.
“The ideal time to be protected against the flu would be September and October. But that’s not to say that if October passes and you haven’t been vaccinated, that you’ve missed your chance. Really what’s important is that you get the vaccine prior to the flu being in circulation and in our area, typically it peaks in January or February,” Briscoe said.
But what will this flu season look like?
Briscoe said they’re learning from parts of the southern hemisphere, which is going through their flu season now.
“What they’ve seen are a couple of things: one, a significant increase in those that have been protected against the flu with the vaccine. But also it’s been a relatively mild flu season. That can be attributed to the immunization increase, but also mask wearing and physical distancing,” he said.
There are no studies that show that the flu vaccine will provide immunity against COVID-19, but Briscoe said there is still a big benefit.
“Think in terms of our health care systems and our health care resources. For every one person that gets a flu shot, that may prevent a hospitalization, and that opens up the ability to provide care for somebody else that might need it in our health care systems due to COVID as an example. So it’s very important that we have a strong flu campaign this year,” he said.
With higher demand anticipated, Briscoe said manufacturers increased production anywhere from 20% to 40% and Discount Drug Mart increased the amount of doses they pre-booked by the same amount, and they reserved the right to acquire more if and when they need to.
They don’t anticipate people having trouble accessing the flu vaccine.