More Patients Turning To Pharmacies For Flu Shots

Oct 26, 2016

Credit ZaldyImg / https://www.flickr.com/photos/8499561@N02/

New research shows how pharmacists administering flu shots is leading to a change in how we immunize ourselves.

Today, it’s common for people to get their flu shots at a drug store pharmacy. That wasn’t always the case because in the past, only doctors and nurses could give the shots. 

An Indiana University study shows the number of flu shots given in pharmacies increased dramatically once laws changed.

In 2007, around 3 million flu shots were given at pharmacies. Six years, later, and that number has risen to almost 21 million.

But Coady Wing, who coauthored the study and is an assistant professor at IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, says the data doesn’t show much of a change in the overall rate of adults getting their shots. 

"It's possible there was some reshuffling and you got some new people, but the same total number, that seems less likely to me," he says.

That means fewer people are getting shots from their usual physician.

He calls the result of pharmacy-based flu shots a success for the patients, because it’s a more convenient option for most people.  But then, why isn’t the overall number of people receiving flu shots going up?

"It might also tell you that the complexity of the formal health care system is maybe not the main barrier to getting flu shots, because even when you reduce the barriers by allowing it in retail settings, it doesn’t increase the rates very much," Wing says.