More techs needed to give flu shot

Due to the increase in sales and reported flu cases, local pharmacies in Tallahassee need more help dispersing flu shots.

In September, Walgreens pharmacy sales increased 11.3 percent, according to a representative from the Walgreens Investor Relations department.There has been a 2.4 percent increase in sales  due to seasonal flu shots. As a result of the increase, local drugstore pharmacists need more help for this flu season.

Because of the high demand of the flu vaccines, local drugstores arranged for consumers to receive the flu shot. Stores like Walgreens and CVS are requiring pharmacists to become certified to give the vaccines.

“When we first received the vaccines, we could have used more help,” said Carrie Winfrey, a certified Walgreens pharmacist. “Having to fill prescriptions and give shots kept us busy. We only have two pharmacists at this location.”

The Walgreens Investor Relations department said on Sept. 1, local drugstores, Walgreens and CVS, received seasonal flu vaccines.

Winfrey said that patients would still have to receive the H1N1 vaccine. The H1N1 vaccine is separate from the seasonal flu. The vaccine prevents patients from being diagnosed with the seasonal flu.

“We have had a lot of new customers coming in for their flu shots,” Winfrey said. “I know that it is going to get busier once the H1N1 vaccine arrives.”

The Investor Relations department also said  Walgreens’ year-to-date sales were more than $46 billion, an increase of 7.4 percent from 2008.

To stay in competition with Walgreens, CVS offered 100,000 free seasonal flu shots Oct. 1 to the unemployed as part of its efforts to help keep Americans healthy this flu season.

Winfrey said drugstores are swamped with consumers coming in to buy swine flu related products such as hand sanitizers, respirators and surgical facemasks.

Sales of these items are likely to rise as more cases are reported.

“The business has been a little more hectic because so many people are afraid of catching the virus,” said Lori Gordon, a fourth-year pharmacy student from Jacksonville. “There is an impropriate amount of man power put in to play. These stores need to add more pharmacists.”

Gordon, 22, is currently training at different stores in their pharmacy department.

“Drugstores may need to increase hours of the pharmacy to help during the rush of the flu vaccine,” Gordon said.

Gordon said when the companies begin to receive their limited supply of H1N1 vaccines, the consumer flow is going to increase.