Who is giving you that flu shot?

Pharmacies, doctors’ offices and walk-in clinics – you have more opportunities than ever before to get that all-important annual flu shot. But if you’ll be getting yours somewhere other than the doctor’s office, you might wonder just who is giving you that shot and what that person’s qualifications are.

As an experienced registered nurse and dean of University of Phoenix College of Nursing, Dr. Pam Fuller has the inside scoop on who might be administering your flu shot.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine every year,” Fuller says. “The good news is that with so many different providers offering the flu shot, it’s easier than ever to protect your family against seasonal flu.”

If you’re thinking about getting a flu shot at the local pharmacy or another nontraditional provider, here are some common questions you may have – and the answers:

Q. Who is allowed to give a flu shot?

A. Each state has different standards. Additionally, within each state, the criteria may vary depending upon clinic or facility governance. Generally, your doctor’s office will be able to give you a flu shot. Your state may also allow pharmacists and urgent-care clinics to administer the vaccination.

Q. If I go to a pharmacy or retail outlet, who is likely to be giving me my shot?

A. The professional giving your shot may be a pharmacist, nurse, nurse practitioner or medical assistant.

Q. What are the advantages or disadvantages of getting my shot at a pharmacy, rather than in the doctor’s office?

A. You may not need an appointment at a pharmacy, although many doctor’s offices take walk-ins as well. Check with your health care provider to see if they accept walk-ins or offer flu clinic days. One advantage of getting vaccinated at your doctor’s office is that your primary care provider will likely be more aware of your overall medical history and needs, including any allergies.

Q. Are flu shots from these alternate sources as effective and safe as those given by a doctor?

A. The flu shot is the same shot regardless of where you receive it.

Q. Will my insurance cover a flu shot at the pharmacy?

A. Many insurers will cover a flu shot, no matter where it’s given, in order to help keep their members healthy. It’s more cost-effective to pay for a flu shot than a hospitalization. Check with your insurance company and ask if they will cover a flu shot no matter where it’s given.

Q. What should I do to prepare for getting a flu shot?

A. Most people tolerate the flu shot just fine, and it’s a great way to prevent catching the flu. Those with severe egg allergies or a severe cold should talk to their doctors before getting vaccinated, and those people should get their shot from their doctor.

Q. Are there side effects and what are they?

A. Some people might experience a local reaction and have some discomfort at the site of the injection. A general reaction can be mild fever, muscle aches or fatigue. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot – that is a myth. As your body builds its natural defenses against the flu antigen, you may experience these mild reactions, especially if you’ve never had a flu shot before.

Q. Is there anyone who should not get a flu shot?

A. Certain people should not get a flu shot without consulting their health care provider. They include people who have severe allergies to chicken eggs or who have had a severe reaction to flu shots in the past. Other precautions may apply. If you have any questions about whether or not you should get a flu shot, consult your health care provider.

“Each year, qualified professionals such as nurses, medical assistants and nurse practitioners help protect thousands of Americans by administering the flu vaccination,” says Dr. Kimberly Horton, system chief nurse executive for the Alameda County Medical Center. Horton, who holds a doctorate in health administration from University of Phoenix, oversees a team of 1,200 nurses. “With more venues for getting the flu shot than ever before, Americans are better equipped to protect themselves and their loved ones from seasonal flu.”

To learn more about University of Phoenix College of Nursing visit www.phoenix.edu/nursing.

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