We ran this post in 2014. Sadly, the flu shot push is stronger than ever. Yesterday I was at a WalMart and they were re-surfacing their parking lot. There, behind the safety wire and embedded on a slab, was a lonely sign "GET YOUR FLU SHOT!"
By Cathy Jameson
Flu shot advertising must have gone into high gear again recently. I’ve noticed more outdoor signs being added to the lawns and sidewalk areas of several grocery stores and big box pharmacies in parts of my community. Customers will literally trip over signs if they’re not paying attention.
Those signs, and the automated phone call from our pharmacy on Friday morning reinforced something I try to forget: it’s flu shot season. I honestly don’t think flu shot season ever ended though. One of the smaller pharmacies in town keeps their Flu Shots Available Here banner up year-round. I don’t like to give that place my business and use another pharmacy in another part of town.
That other pharmacy called me Friday morning with an automated message. Ronan’s seizure medication was ready to be picked up. Before I could hang up, the message continued. “…after you pick up your prescription, remember that all of our pharmacies offer flu shots. No need to make an appointment. Walk ins are welcome!”
Gee, let me run right down there and ask a complete stranger jab me with this year’s flu shot. Wheeee!
Nah. I know better than to blindly roll up my sleeve or sniff that mist up my nose. I know better than to get a flu shot at my pharmacy too. I’ve thought about that, but the last time I was in our pharmacy, I asked some questions that couldn’t be answered.
I wanted to ask the pharmacy tech a little bit about the flu shot.
She was busy. I was not.
She was trying to rush me. I wouldn’t let her.
Even though I know a lot about the flu shot already, I wanted to ask her more questions. I also wanted to see the package insert. The pharmacy tech tried to pawn the VIS off on me.
“No, the package insert, please.” I said, “It has much more information on it…like who manufactured the vaccine…and what adverse reactions I should look for…”
It took the pharmacy tech a few minutes and my guidance for her to provide the document. Sure, it’s a simple piece of paper, but it’s one that more people should read. I wanted to see it. And I wanted to read it.
The tech went looking for the package insert in a binder on the other side of the pharmacy counter. She came up empty handed.
“Sorry, ma’am. We don’t have it.”
I wasn’t going to let that be her final answer. “Is it in another place?” I asked.
I was about to jump on my soapbox and say, “You’re offering to inject people with a product with some heavy-duty toxins. If you’re doing that, you should be able to offer some reading material about that product,” but she turned away and went to look for the paper in another place.
No luck there either. Shaking her head she said, “Sorry, I don’t see…”
I offered, “Maybe you can look in the box in the fridge where the flu shot vials are stored. Maybe the package insert is in the box with the vials.”
She walked toward the fridge, which was next to where the head pharmacists was feverishly answering phone calls. The pharmacy tech looked in the fridge and reached for a box. She took something out of the box, looked at me and said, “This?”
There it was.
It was my turn to shake my head.
“Yes. THAT. May I please read it?”
“Do you want to keep it?” the pharmacy tech asked.
I casually replied, “Sure, if you don’t mind.”
“You can keep it…” she started to say but then stopped herself. Looking toward the head pharmacists, who was rather annoyed with how long I was keeping her tech from her other duties, she asked, “This lady here, she wants to read this…she can have it, right?”
Still on the phone and sorting through a large stack of prescriptions needing to be filled, she mouthed, “Yes,” and went back to the call.
I took the package insert and said, “Thanks.” I added, “If I have any questions about the flu shot, can I call you guys?”
The pharmacy tech was pretty much done with me and with my requests. She looked at me, looked back toward her boss and said, “Yeah, I guess. We give those shots every day. So someone here should be able to help you.”
Well, I should hope so! I thought.
“Okay,” I said. “If I have any questions, I’ll let you know. Thank you.”
The package insert should not be that hard to find. Yes, you can search for vaccine package inserts online, but they should be readily available to people who want to read them. They should especially be available where flu shots are readily and eagerly administered as well.
Maybe other places do a better job in providing that paperwork, but my pharmacy as eager and ready as they are to give flu shots to anyone who walks into their building, isn’t prepared as I think they should be.
I need to head back to the pharmacy to pick Ronan’s prescription. I think I may skip the drive thru and go into the store to pick up the medication. When I go in, I’ll make sure that I have enough time to ask a few things about the flu shot. With how flustered she got, I didn’t get to ask the pharmacy tech all of my questions. I didn’t get a chance to ask her about the flu shot’s known side effects. I didn’t give her a chance to counsel me on what adverse reactions are. I didn’t get an idea if she knows what I should document adverse effects from a flu shot either. While I’m there getting my questions answered, I may ask for a new package insert, too, just to see if it’s any easier to obtain.
Don’t worry. I’ve done enough reading to know that I’m not going to get this year’s flu shot. But with how this year’s flu shot is constantly being pushed in all sorts of pharmacies, including those found in grocery stores, I’m curious about how my local pharmacy staff will answer some very important questions. Being eager to push a product certainly help push sales. But simple knowledge of that product, to include the most basic information, like knowing where the package insert is, should be a top priority.
Since my pharmacy boasts that they eagerly offer flu shots on a daily basis at each and every one of their stores, they should be better prepared to answer every question, including mine, about those shots. So yes, I think a quick trip into the pharmacy as well as a friendly chat with the pharmacists is in order. The pharmacists and the pharmacy techs should be tested on what they’re selling, don’t you think so? I sure do.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.