'Flu shots now'

Local pharmacists have already begun giving vaccinations against seasonal and H1N1 influenza.

This year, the two vaccines are combined into one, so you only need a single vaccination to protect against either seasonal flu or pandemic influenza.

The World Health Organization recently declared that the world has moved into the "post-pandemic" phase, meaning the pandemic has ended, but some people will likely still get sick and some will continue to die from H1N1.

But protective vaccinations are already available in Rochester. Increasingly, Minnesota pharmacists are becoming immunizers.

"Our pharmacists are immunization certified, which means they have gone through all the certification and training necessary to be able to give these shots," said John Truax, Walgreens store manager.


Any time the pharmacy at Walgreens, 80 14th St. S.W., is open, he said, you can get a flu shot. Cost is $29.99. The pharmacist can check to see if insurance covers cost.

Pharmacists in Minnesota get certified to vaccinate anyone age 19 or older. Pharmacist vaccination is a trend that has begun to play out over the past couple of years in the state.

At Cub Pharmacy, 1021 15th Ave. S.E., for example, there are two pharmacists that are certified to vaccinate.

"We're both certified immunizers so we give injections. We just work them in just like a person getting a prescription filled," said Cub pharmacist Rich Braun. He and pharmacist Jim Blackwell also give pneumonia shots, vaccinations against shingles for people 60 and older and shots against whooping cough.

"We don't draw up those doses until we know we are going to use it immediately," Braun said.

It can be a little more relaxed situation at a pharmacy than at a vaccination clinic.

"They're not standing at the door with a needle ready to poke you," Truax of Walgreens said, because the pharmacist also fills prescriptions. So it's a matter of taking customers in the order they arrive.

"The whole staff will be there to give everybody the best service they can," Truax said.


Getting vaccinated now will protect you against flu the entire season, he said.

"The flu shot protects against both the seasonal and H1N1 — and that's a big thing," Truax said.

 In other words, it's not too early to get a vaccination now.

At this time of year at a pharmacy, "you can be in and out with your flu shot inside 15 minutes," Truax said, (depending upon the number of prescriptions being filled). If there's a line, the pharmacist can give you the paperwork to fill out while you wait.

"Now it's a great time to get in," Truax said. His pharmacists offer vaccination clinics at companies for workers. Walgreens also offers a flu shot gift card.

"We're giving flu shots now. We have it. We're ready to go and Walgreen's not going to run out of vaccine," Truax said.

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