Many health-conscious Valley residents already have a habit of checking the availability of seasonal flu shots every October or November.
According to the two major pharmacy chains with a presence in the Valley, August is the new November — at least as far as this year’s seasonal shots are concerned.
On June 30, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky announced a committee recommendation to prefer the use of specific flu vaccines for adults age 65 and older, including higher-dose, adjuvanted flu vaccines. This announcement paved the way for pharmacies to begin ordering, delivering and administering seasonal flu shots 2022-23.
CVS and Walgreens have both started promoting their availability of seasonal recordings.
CFS district leader Justin Ellis says one of the things that makes his chain more likely to try to vaccinate the public is the time it takes for the vaccine to become effective.
“It takes about two weeks, after vaccination, for a flu vaccine to do its job,” Ellis said. “So, between the time it takes to schedule or do a walk-in consultation for an entire household, plus the two weeks for each person, this time we’re trying to get ahead of flu season. We also want everyone to get a seasonal flu shot.” before the arduous journey of November and December begins.”
The exact timing and length of flu seasons varies, the CDC says, but flu activity often starts to pick up in October. Typically, flu activity peaks between December and February, although there can still be significant activity in some states through May.
Ellis said Valley residents’ tendency to stay indoors during the summer, along with semi-annual residents and visitors who temporarily inflate the population each winter, does not change Arizona in terms of winter as the time of greatest flu risk.
Ellis also said most Americans are on COVID-19 booster shots. He and the rest of the healthcare industry are awaiting advice from the CDC sometime this fall regarding COVID boosters, which are expected to focus more strongly on the ommicron variants of the virus.
Also, he said, mask mandates and nearly all other COVID-19 precautionary mandates have been lifted.
“We don’t want anyone to get sick, even with the common flu,” Ellis said. “Especially our most vulnerable neighbors.”
Flu shots are available for free from most insurance companies at both chains.
“Once the COVID boosters are available, it will be no problem for the pharmacy or the public to schedule both a COVID booster and a seasonal flu shot for the same appointment,” he said.
Both pharmacy chains encourage agreements to ensure that there are enough staff in the right locations for efficient vaccination. Ellis said CVS has its own digital app that can be used.
,,We also go inside,” he says.
Valley residents over the age of 65 can choose between regular approved seasonal vaccines, along with Fluzone High-Dose and FLUAD, which are designed for patients in that age group. Those work by enhancing the production of antibodies to provide a stronger immune response to the flu than traditional vaccines.
Ellis said he expects all CFS pharmacies to have an adequate supply of seasonal flu vaccines.
“We are announcing this at this time because we know how we will be fully supplied,” Ellis said. “When COVID-19 vaccines or boosters were new to the market, demand initially far outstripped supply.”