Influenza (“the flu”) is more dangerous than the common cold, especially for children. Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal influenza and miss school; thousands visit an urgent care center, the emergency room, and/or are hospitalized, and last flu season - 192 infants, children, and teens died from the flu and its complications. An estimated 80% of those pediatric deaths did not receive a flu vaccine. Studies show flu vaccination not only reduces the risk of death in children, but it also reduces the susceptibility to and severity of illness.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine. But, you called your doctor's office and they can't get you in for a couple weeks. Now what? You may have a few alternatives.
If your child has insurance they may be eligible to get vaccinated at your local, in-network pharmacy at no-cost. Most insurance plans cover the flu vaccine as an essential health benefit, with $0 co-pay. It's quick and can be done while you're shopping for dinner items or household supplies. Some locations even offer in-store discount coupons!
We encourage you to start where you normally pick up prescriptions, and make sure you bring your insurance card. The benefit of your local pharmacy is extended evening and weekend hours, and shorter wait times. Be sure to call ahead to confirm available supply and ages served. Below are the age limits for flu shots at Nevada pharmacies as reported to Immunize Nevada (however, we always encourage you to call first as restrictions may vary based on location):
- 3 years and older: Smith's, Target, CVS
- 4 years and older: Vons, Walgreens
- 6 years and older: Raley's, Walmart, SaveMart, Albertson's
- 8 years and older: Safeway, Sam's Club
- 9 years and older: Costco
If your child is too young to be vaccinated at a pharmacy, check with your physician's office, local health clinic, or your insurance plan. Some plans offer flu clinics just for their insured, and some offices offer vaccination-only appointments or walk-in hours. If your child doesn't have health coverage, there may be a community clinic near you that offers low or no-cost vaccine through the Vaccines for Children program. See the list here: www.immunizenevada.org/find-vaccine-clinics
Parents, it's not just important for your kids to get vaccinated, you need to make sure you get your flu shot too. The CDC reports an estimated 111 million days are lost at work due to influenza. We know parenting requires daily superhero feats, getting a flu shot ensures you keep your superhero status instead of being sidelined on the couch. Make sure that other caregivers (grandparents, babysitters) and household members (older siblings) also get vaccinated each year. By getting your annual flu shot you will be less likely to get sick and spread the flu to your child, co-workers, and unsuspecting community members.
Protecting yourself and those around you is a win-win! And this year, you may be able to vote early and get your flu shot at the same location, saving you time while helping your community.