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Jamal Downer is a pharmacy manager for Walgreens and is based in New York. He currently is responsible for everything from dispensing prescribed medications and counseling patients to managing the operations of the pharmacy department to include department procedures and practices. Downer joined Walgreens in 2004 as a pharmacist. Downer received a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD) from Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy in 2004.

Flu Shots And Why They Are Important 

The flu shot is the best protection you can get against influenza… the one thing we know about flu season is that it’s always unpredictable… we never know when it may peak or how severe it may be… that’s why each year the CDC recommends a flu shot for everyone over the age of 6 months by October or as soon as vaccine becomes available.

Walgreens offers flu shots (and a broad range of CDC-recommended vaccines) whenever it’s most convenient for our customers and patients. Flu shots are available at any Walgreens pharmacy seven days a week, with no appointment necessary.  They’re available during all pharmacy hours at all Walgreens, Duane Reade pharmacies in New York, and also at our Healthcare Clinic locations.

About one-third of the customers who get their flu shots at Walgreens do so during off hours – mainly evening and weekends (also holiday), which shows the importance of providing vaccinations when it’s most convenient for our customers/patients.

Well over 90 percent of our flu shot customers have their vaccinations covered under some form of insurance – and often with no out-of-pocket cost. Under the Affordable Care Act, health plans are required to cover flu shots as well as number of other vaccinations.

Flu shots are covered under Medicare Part B as well as most insurance plans. With broader coverage than ever before from health plans and insurers, it’s not only the most important preventive measure you can take for flu season, it’s also now one of the easiest.

Walgreens points of care will again offer a number of options for flu shots including: seasonal flu vaccine, a high-dose vaccine recommended for those over age 65; and a quadrivalent vaccine (protects against four strains of influenza).

‘Get a Shot Give a Shot’ campaign

The Walgreens ‘Get a Shot, Give a Shot’ campaign has helped to provide over 15 million life-saving vaccines (polio and measles) over the past three years.

For every vaccine (all vaccines, not just flu) administered at a Walgreens pharmacy, Healthcare Clinic or Duane Reade pharmacy, Walgreens will donate the value of a life-saving vaccine to a child in need in a developing country – through our partnership with the UN Foundation and its Shot@Life campaign.

This year – our goal is to continue to increase the number of life-saving vaccines we provide through the campaign to benefit more children and families in need in developing countries, while also improving immunization rates here in the U.S.

1-in-5 children worldwide lack access to lifesaving immunizations, and a child dies of a vaccine-preventable disease every 20 seconds (Shot@Life). And the # of children dying every year from preventable diseases in developing countries is nearly equal to half the children entering kindergarten in the U.S.

We’re proud to work with the UN Foundation and extend our partnership now in its third year…  this furthers and supports our mission to help increase the # of people vaccinated against flu and other vaccine-preventable diseases in underserved communities across America, as well as populations in need in other parts of the world.

We’re also now in our sixth year of a flu shot voucher program we’ve developed by working closely with the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Through the program, we’ve distributed more than $50 million worth of flu shot vouchers to uninsured or underinsured individuals throughout the U.S., and this season we will aim to distribute more than $10 million worth of flu shot vouchers through various community outreach efforts.

Jamal Downer answers your questions about flu shots below:

Good morning, is is true flu shots only last 90 days?

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every year by the end of October, if possible. However, getting vaccinated later is OK. Vaccination should continue throughout the flu season, even in January or later. Some children who have received flu vaccines previously and children who have only received one dose in their lifetime, may need two doses of flu vaccine. A health care provider can advise on how many doses a child should get.

Which is better the flu shot or flu mist?

According to the CDC, only injectable flu shots are recommended for use this season.

 How long does the flu shot last?

Getting vaccinated before flu activity begins helps protect you once the flu season starts in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body’s immune response to fully respond and for you to be protected, so make plans to get vaccinated. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible.

However, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial. CDC recommends ongoing flu vaccination as long as influenza viruses are circulating, even into January or later. Children aged 6 months through 8 years who need two doses of vaccine should get the first dose as soon as possible to allow time to get the second dose before the start of flu season. The two doses should be given at least 28 days apart.

Why do you need to get a flu shot every year and not every decade like other vaccines?

There are many flu viruses and they are constantly changing. The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated to match circulating flu viruses. Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses that research suggests will be most common.

Is the flu shot recommended for pregnant women?

Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from flu, including older people, very young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.

Does the flu shot provide protection for all types of influenza viruses?

Some flu shots protect against three flu viruses and some protect against four flu viruses.

If flu season peaks in mid-winter, why vaccinate now?

The flu season is always unpredictable and it takes up to two weeks to build up full immunity, so its important to get a flu shot by end of October.

Are flu shots free for vets at all Walgreens?

Please contact your local VA office for details of the Walgreens vet program.

Which month is the best month to get a flu shot?

The CDC recommends that everyone should receive the flu shot as soon as vaccine becomes available.

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