Our immunization-trained pharmacists can administer a wide range of CDC-recommended immunizations and vaccines for children, adults and seniors. Immunizations are an important part of preventative healthcare and many are covered for a $0 copay on Medicare and other insurance plans.
Ask your FRESH pharmacist which vaccines are recommended for you.
Influenza, commonly known as the “flu,” is an extremely contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses. Flu appears most frequently in winter and early spring.
The flu virus is spread from person to person through respiratory secretions and typically sweeps through large groups of people who spend time in close contact, such as in daycare facilities, classrooms, college dormitories, military barracks, offices and nursing homes. The flu virus attacks the body by spreading through the upper and/or lower respiratory tract.
While anyone can get flu, infants, the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic ailments such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and HIV are at highest risk for flu complications. Despite advances in flu prevention and treatment, the CDC estimates that deaths related to influenza range from 3,000 to 49,000 annually in the United States.
Specific strains of flu can be prevented by a flu vaccine. The influenza vaccine is administered yearly to protect against the most common flu strains of the year. Multiple types of vaccines are available including:
- quadrivalent (protects against 4 strains)
- high dose (for people over 65)
- Flublok (egg free/virus free)
Who should get the influenza vaccine?
All children and adults over the age of 6 months.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can cause serious complications. It may cause someone to cough, run a fever and have a hard time breathing. For older adults, babies and people with other diseases, it can cause serious illness and even require hospitalization. Pneumonia can be more severe if someone is already ill such as having the flu.
The most common way to catch pneumonia is to breathe infected air droplets from someone who has pneumonia.
Patients that are at higher risk include anyone meeting the following criteria:
- Are very young or very old
- Have a chronic health problem, such as diabetes
- Have a poor immune system because of HIV, AIDS, steroid use, or anti-rejection medications (people with organ transplants take these medications)
- Have diseased or damaged lungs, such as with asthma/emphysema/COPD
- Are a smoker
There is no way to predict who is at risk for the severe complications. In general, if a patient has a weak immune system, they have greater chance for complications.
The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23 23) protects against the 23 most common types of streptococcus pneumonia bacteria and the pneumonia (pneumococcal) conjugate vaccine (PCV13) protects against 13 types of streptococcus pneumonia bacteria, including those most likely to cause serious disease. New recommendations state that both types of pneumococcal vaccine are needed to ensure adequate protection*.
If the patient is 65 years or older and has never received either pneumonia vaccine, PCV 13 vaccine should be given, then 6-12 months later PPSV 23 vaccine should be given.
If the patient is 65 years or older and has received PPSV 23 vaccine, PCV 13 should be given at least 12 months later.
Who should get the pneumococcal vaccine?
- All adults ages 65 and older who have not previously been vaccinated
- Adults ages 19-64 who smoke or have asthma
- Anyone ages 2-64 who has a long-term health problem such as heart or lung disease, diabetes, sickle cell disease, cirrhosis, cerebrospinal fluid leaks or cochlear implant.
- Anyone ages 2-64 who has a disease or condition that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as cancer, leukemia, kidney failure, HIV infection or AIDS, asplenia, or organ transplant.
- Anyone ages 2-64 who is taking a drug or treatment that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as long-term steroids, certain cancer drugs, or radiation therapy.
*Both Pneumovax23 and Prevnar13 are covered by most plans for $0 copay.
Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
The varicella-zoster virus is responsible for causing chickenpox and shingles. Shingles (herpes zoster) are marked by an outbreak of rash or blisters on the skin. Early symptoms of shingles include:
- Pain that is itching, stabbing, or shooting
- Tingling feeling in or under the skin, which is red in the affected area
- Fever, chills and headache
- Stomach upset
After a few days, a rash appears as a band or a cluster of raised dots, only on one side of the body. The rash often appears around the waistline or face following along a nerve track. The rash eventually develops into red, fluid-filled, round, painful blisters. Usually, these blisters begin to dry out and crust within 7 to 10 days. It takes 2 to 4 weeks for the blisters to heal and they may leave scars. Some people only get a mild rash. And some do not get a rash at all. The most common problem with shingles is called postherpetic neuralgia which is pain, headaches and nerve problems that occur after a shingles outbreak. Postherpetic neuralgia lasts for at least 30 days and may continue for months to years.
Shingles is most common in older adults and people who have weak immune systems because of stress, injury, certain medicines, or other reasons. Most people who get shingles will get better and will not get it again. But it is possible to get shingles more than once.
The herpes zoster vaccine is administered once and protects against shingles in patients who have had chicken pox in the past. The shingles vaccine has been proven to reduce the risk of shingles by at least 50%. The shingles vaccine can also reduce pain in people who still get shingles after being vaccinated. Therefore it is still recommended to get the shingles vaccine even if you have already had a case of shingles.
Who should get the herpes zoster vaccine?
Anyone age 50 and older who have had chicken pox in the past and/or already had a case of the shingles.
Meningitis is a relatively rare infection that affects the delicate membranes, called meninges which cover the brain and spinal cord. Bacterial meningitis can be deadly and contagious among people in close contact. If not treated quickly, it can lead to death within hours or lead to permanent damage to the brain and other parts of the body.
Meningitis is almost always caused by a bacterial or viral infection that began elsewhere in the body, such as in the ears, sinuses, or upper respiratory tract. The bacteria can spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing.
Two meningitis vaccines, MPSV4 and MCV4, protect against four types of meningococcal disease that are responsible for 70% of cases in the U.S. An additional type of vaccine protects against serotype B, which also causes meningitis.
- Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4), sold as Menomune
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4), sold as Menactra, MenHibrix and Menveo.
- Serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, sold as Trumenba and Bexsero.
Who should get the meningitis vaccine?
The meningococcal vaccine is administered to all 7th graders, first time students entering college, those traveling to areas where they will be at risk for disease (Africa, Asia, or Saudi Arabia), those who do not have a spleen, military recruits and those who have been exposed to meningitis during an outbreak.
Tetanus/diphtheria (Td) and Tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (Tdap/DTaP)
Tetanus is caused by bacteria that enters through a skin puncture and then creates a deadly toxin called tetanospasmin. This causes the condition known as tetanus, which affects the body’s nerves. Symptoms include nerve spasms and contractions that spread from the face to the arms and legs, debilitating the body and affecting the ability to breathe. Untreated tetanus is often fatal.
The tetanus vaccine for children and adults is the primary means of preventing tetanus. In the United States the tetanus vaccine is known as Td.
Diphtheria once was a major cause of illness and death among children in the U.S. but cases have been dramatically reduced due to vaccine compliance. In 2014, 7,321 cases of diphtheria were reported to the World Health Organization, but there are likely many more cases.
Diphtheria is spread from person to person by direct contact like from coughing or sneezing. Rarely, people can get sick from touching open sores (skin lesions) or clothes that touched open sores of someone sick with diphtheria. A person also can get diphtheria by coming in contact with an object, like a toy, that has the bacteria that cause diphtheria on it. Like tetanus, it can be fatal if untreated or can cause severe damage to the nerves and heart.
Pertussis (whooping cough) is a very contagious disease that can cause death. It is spread from person to person usually by coughing or sneezing or when spending a lot of time near one another where you share breathing space. Many babies who get pertussis are infected by older siblings, parents, or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease. Infected people are most contagious up to about 2 weeks after the cough begins.
This disease is most severe among children younger than 5 years old. Babies may have a symptom known as “apnea.” Apnea is a pause in the child’s breathing pattern. Pertussis is most dangerous for babies. Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and the patient is forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound. This extreme coughing can cause the person to throw up and be very tired.
The best way to prevent pertussis (whooping cough) among babies, children, teens and adults is to get vaccinated.
In the United States, the recommended pertussis vaccine for babies and children is called DTaP. This is a combination vaccine that helps protect against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. For adolescents and adults the vaccine is known as TdaP which is a different formulation for protection against the same three diseases.
Who should get the Td vaccine?
All adults aged 19 and older should get a booster dose of Td every 10 years to protect against tetanus and diphtheria infections.
Who should get the Tdap vaccine?
All adolescents 11-18 should receive one booster dose of Tdap.
Tdap should be substituted for Td (Tetanus Booster) for the next dose among people with the following characteristics:
- All adults who have never gotten Tdap
- All adults who expect to have close contact with an infant younger than 12 months of age
- Healthcare workers who have direct contact in hospitals or clinics
- Pregnant women should get Tdap during the 27th to 36th week of each pregnancy. New mothers who have never gotten Tdap should get a dose as soon as possible after delivery.
Varicella (Chicken Pox)
Varicella or chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by varicella-zoster virus (VZV). IT is easily spread through touching or breathing in the virus particles from blisters of an infected person. It causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness and fever. The rash normally first appears on the stomach, back and face then spreads over the entire body. Chickenpox can be serious in certain types of people including, babies, adults and people with weak immune systems. Some serious complications include strep infections, pneumonia, encephalitis and dehydration. These complications may require hospitalization and can result in death.
The best way to prevent the chickenpox is to get vaccinated. The Varicella vaccine is a 2-dose series that protects against the chicken pox. Most people who get the Varicella vaccine will not get chickenpox; however, if someone who has been vaccinated does get chickenpox, it is usually very mild. They will have fewer blisters, are less likely to have a fever and will recover faster as the vaccine prevents almost all cases of severe disease.
Who should get the Varicella vaccine?
All infants and children and any adult born after 1980 who have never had the chicken pox.
Measles or rubeola is a disease caused by measles virus that causes rash, cough, runny nose, eye irritation and fever. It’s most well-known symptom is Koplik spots or white blisters on the inside of the mouth. It can lead to further complicated infections especially in children younger than five years old such as ear infections, pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death. About 1 in 4 people who get measles will be hospitalized.
Mumps is caused by the mumps virus causing fever, headache, muscle pain, loss of appetite and swallow glands, particularly those around the throat. It can lead to deafness, meningitis, swelling of reproductive organs and sterility.
Rubella or German measles is caused by rubella virus that causes rash that begins on the face and spreads to the body, arthritis (more common in women) and mild fever. If a pregnant woman gets rubella it can cause miscarriage or serious birth defects.
All of these diseases may be transmitted from person to person through the air and may be easily caught by being around someone who is infected. 9 out of 10 people who are exposed to the virus contract the illness. The best defense against these diseases is the MMR vaccine.
The MMR vaccine is a 2-dose series that protects against measles, mumps and rubella.
Who should get the MMR vaccine?
Children should get two doses of MMR vaccine. The first at 12 to 15 months of age. The second at 4 to 6 years of age. In addition adults born after 1956 and healthcare works should receive at least one dose.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Human Papillomavirus is the most common sexually-transmitted infection in the U.S. and can lead to cervical cancer and genital warts. This infection is spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV even if the person only has one partner.
The human papillomavirus vaccine is a 3-dose series that protects against HPV. This vaccine can prevent most cases of cervical cancer in females, if it is given before exposure to the virus. In addition, it can prevent vaginal and vulvar cancer in females and genital warts and anal cancer in both males and females.
Who should get the HPV vaccine?
Males and females 9 to 26 years of age.
Hepatitis is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV) that is highly contagious.
It is spread by the consumption of contaminated food or water and through occupational or personal contact with infected animals and humans. It can range in severity from mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.
The hepatitis A vaccine is a 2-dose series that protects against the hepatitis A virus. The vaccine can also be given in combination with hepatitis B in a 3-dose series.
Who should get the Hepatitis A vaccine?
All children at age 1 year, international travelers, men who have sexual contact with other men, users of recreational drugs, workers with potential exposure risk and patients with chronic liver disease including Hepatitis B or C.
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause short and long term illnesses leading to liver damage, liver cancer and possible death. It’s spread through contact with infected blood or body fluids. The hepatitis B vaccine is a 3-dose series that protects against the hepatitis B virus. The vaccine can also be given in combination with the hepatitis A vaccine in a 3-dose series.
Who should get the Hepatitis B vaccine?
All infants beginning at birth, international travelers, adults with multiple sex partners, men who have sexual contact with other men, injection drug users, healthcare workers and other workers at risk for blood exposure, patients with chronic liver or renal disease or HIV. Also unvaccinated adults with diabetes type 2 aged 19-59.