CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - October is now American Pharmacists Month as proclaimed by Charleston Mayor Joe Riley on Friday. A new state law allows pharmacists to prescribe and administer flu shots, and they met with the mayor to promote the life saving measure.
After Riley spoke Friday, pharmacist Kristy Brittain consulted with an MUSC student and administered a flu shot. This year, the immunization protects against two seasonal flu strains and H1N1.
"Some people think it's like a cold where they may have runny nose or feeling under the weather, but people can end up in the hospital, and they can actually even die from having the flu," Brittain said.
Retail chains are promoting the vaccine and offering them to patients.
According to a state law signed by Governor Mark Sanford this year, pharmacists can become certified through the American Pharmacy Association, or South Carolina Pharmacy Association, to give shots.
"They can administer flu vaccine without a physician's order and the patient is 18 years or older, and they've been through that training program. That will be approved by as a protocol by the board of medical examiners at their November meeting," MUSC pharmacy professor Wayne Weart said.
The flu can cause symptoms like fever, fatigue, weakness, cough and more. The Centers for Disease Control says in the past the virus has killed more than 49,000 people in a year.
"I set a good example by getting a flu shot, and my encouragement to the citizens of our communities, take advantage through your health insurance, health care provider or the plethora and very affordable opportunities," Mayor Riley said.
Check with your local pharmacy to see if it provides flu shots. Some pharmacies will take walk-ins while others require an appointment.
People older than 65 are most at risk of dying from the flu. The CDC says last year the H1N1, commonly known as "Swine Flu," was associated with more than 12,000 deaths.