Pharmacists Provide Important Information and Care During Cold and Flu Season

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) reminds the 250 million people who visit the pharmacy each week to utilize your relationship with your neighborhood pharmacist to meet your health care and information needs during the cold and flu season. Pharmacists are important resources to keeping your family safe and healthy from the flu and other infectious diseases.

"Pharmacists play an important role in protecting the public health during flu season by providing immunizations, medications and health information to patients in their communities," said American Pharmacists Association CEO Tom Menighan. "Pharmacists are an integral part of the health care team and, with most Americans living within just five miles of a pharmacy, they are easily accessible to patients nationwide."

Flu season is beginning to peak around the country and the CDC recommends a three-pronged approach to protect yourself and those around you:

1. Get your flu shot. Talk with your pharmacist or other healthcare provider about the best version for you.
The flu vaccine is still the best protection from influenza available. While recent reports have highlighted this season's flu vaccine as "less-effective," due to the "drifting" of one of the strains circulating in communities, vaccination will greatly reduce the severity of your symptoms if you do become ill. It will also continue to protect you from the vaccine's other strains.

2. If you develop flu-like symptoms, especially if you have chronic health conditions, are elderly or very young, talk with a healthcare provider about antiviral medications. If taken within 48 hours of onset they can reduce the severity and length of your illness. If you are not sure whether you have symptoms of the flu or a cold, talk with a pharmacist. They can help you sort out your symptoms and guide you appropriate over-the-counter medications if it's a cold or too far into you flu symptoms.
Follow good health practices to prevent the spread of contagious illnesses. Cover the mouth and nose during a cough or sneeze, avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth, stay home from work or school when you are sick and wash the hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently.

Patient care services, such as immunizations, are just one of the many ways pharmacists can play an important role within their communities and as part of the healthcare team. Widespread access to and coverage of many of pharmacists' patient care services is restricted because of a lack of pharmacists' recognition under federal law as healthcare providers. The health of our communities can be enhanced with this recognition.

As the largest association representing pharmacists across the nation, APhA has been working to increase patient access to and coverage for pharmacists' patient care services through achievement of federal provider status for pharmacists and their services. Pharmacists and their services increase patient access to healthcare and improve patient health and care outcomes.

Source: American Pharmacists Association