Vaccinations Available at your Local Pharmacy
Most of us are used to receiving vaccinations at the doctor's office. For several years now many pharmacies have been offering vaccinations. This offers convenience and can save time from getting an appointment with your primary care physician. A lot of insurance companies also cover these vaccinations, so make sure you check with your insurance plan. Here are examples of vaccines that may be available at your local pharmacy.
Flu Shot (Influenza Vaccine)
The flu virus is a contagious respiratory illness. It can cause many symptoms including fever, chills, cough, body aches/muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms are usually sudden and can range from mild to severe. The flu shot contains dead flu virus. The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months should receive a seasonal flu shot. Common side effects of the flu shot include soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site, fever, and aches.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
Shingles is caused by the herpes zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox will have the virus in their body. However, the virus remains dormant (inactive). Shingles is caused by reactivation of the chicken pox virus later in life, usually in adults 50 years or older.
The shingles vaccine (Zostavax) is a “live attenuated vaccine”. In other words, it contains the live herpes zoster virus that has been made harmless or less virulent. The vaccine has been proven to reduce the risk of shingles by 50% and is shown to reduce pain in people who get shingles. A single dose is recommended for adults 50 years and older. Side effects of Zostavax include soreness, redness, and swelling at the site of injection.
Pneumococcal Pneumonia Vaccine
It is a lung disease that affects the upper respiratory tract. The disease can spread to the blood, lungs, middle ear and nervous system. People most at risk of getting pneumonia are children younger than 2 years and adults greater than 65 years. The Pneumovax vaccine is an inactive vaccine that contains parts of the bacteria. It can protect against 23 types of the pneumococcal bacteria. The vaccine is given as a single shot but in some cases a second dose can be given. The second dose is usually for those older than 65 years.
The pneumonia vaccine should be received by individuals older than 65 years, those between 19-64 who have asthma or smoke, and those who are 2-64 who have a long-term health problem (for example, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, sickle cell). Common side effects include soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site, fever, muscle aches, and drowsiness.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis Vaccine (Tdap and Td vaccines)
Tetanus is a type of nerve ailment that is caused by the toxin from a common bacterium in the soil. The bacterium can be found in animal excrements and dust. The bacterium can enter the body through cuts and scratches. Diphtheria is very contagious and is spread through coughing and sneezing. It can cause respiratory disease and many patients will have a sore throat, fever, and swollen glands. Pertussis is also called whooping cough which is very contagious and is spread through respiratory droplets or contact with contaminated surface where the droplets landed. Some major symptoms can include runny nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing.
The Td vaccine contains inactivated tetanus and diphtheria. Td is a booster vaccine that can also protect against tetanus and diphtheria. The Tdap vaccine contains tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis bacteria. Adolescents 11-18 years should receive the Tdap vaccine and adults 19 and older should get the booster shot (Td) every 10 years. Soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site are common side effects of the vaccine.
Meningitis (Meningococcal Vaccine)
Meningitis is a rare bacterial infection that affects the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Some of the major symptoms include fever, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, and changes in blood pressure to name a few. MCV4 is the meningococcal vaccine and it contains 4 types of the meningococcal bacteria. The meningitis vaccine should be received by 11-12 year old children and they should also receive a booster dose at age 16 years. College freshman living in the dormitories, people with damaged spleens, and U.S. military recruits should also receive the vaccine. The side effects of the meningitis vaccine include soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site, fever, muscle aches, and drowsiness.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Vaccine
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted disease. Most HPV infections don’t cause symptoms and can go away on their own. HPV can cause an increased risk for cervical cancer in women. Gardasil is the HPV vaccine and it contains parts of the virus (HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18). Girls 11-12 years of age should receive HPV before sexual contact. Women 13-26 year old who did not receive all 3 doses when they were younger should also receive Gardasil. The side effects include soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site, fever, and itching at the injection site.
Not all pharmacies offer every vaccine discussed. Check with your local pharmacy to see which vaccines they offer and which ones you should receive. Everyone should be advocates of their own health. Ask your pharmacist if you have any questions.