As the coronavirus continues leaving its mark in the county, some are concerned the addition of the cold and flu season could create a healthcare crisis.
To combat this, Hy-Vee’s Maryville location is providing flu vaccines one of two ways. As usual, shots are provided by appointment at the store's pharmacy. This year, though, vaccines are also available being offered on a drive-thru basis.
Trent Stumpf, pharmacy manager at Hy-Vee in Maryville, said now is the time to get vaccinated.
“We’re approaching the ideal time to vaccinate against the flu,” Stumpf said. “There’s no doubt it’s one of the best ways you can protect yourself and others.”
The drive-thru parking lot clinic is open now and runs through Oct. 31. Vaccines are available Mondays from 7-11 a.m.; Thursdays from 3-7 p.m.; and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stumpf said patients will need to have a completed informed consent form and applicable insurance on their person.
“Most insurances, including Medicare Part B, will completely cover the cost of the flu shot,” Stumpf said. “We’ll bill your insurance before we vaccinate.”
Getting the flu does not necessarily lend itself toward increased susceptibility to the coronavirus, but Stumpf said fighting both simultaneously could benefit one’s immune system.
“I’m not an expert in this area, but it makes sense,” Stumpf said. “If you’re fighting an additional antigen such as the flu, which causes respiratory problems, and then contract COVID on top of that, you’d certainly put more pressure on your immune system.”
While the world continues to wait for a COVID-19 vaccine, Stumpf said flu vaccines are generally effective through the entirety of flu season — another reason he believes it’s important to receive them as soon as possible to stay ahead of the curve.
“According to most literature we look at, flu vaccines stay effective for five or six months,” Stumpf said.
Per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, between 194 and 198 million flu vaccines are expected to be put to use this season. Stumpf said, for that reason, he doesn’t foresee issues this winter in regards to supply.
“I can’t give a number on the limitations on how many people we can vaccinate in a day,” Stumpf said. “We’ve never met our limit in the past. ... We move people through workflow as rapidly as we can, but staffing issues and other unforeseen circumstances can always bring a challenge. We do the best we can to put the right staff in the right places to make patients’ experiences at Hy-Vee good ones.”
Those who prefer being vaccinated inside during normal pharmacy hours can do so, Stumpf said, so long as a pharmacist is available. Bring your gas card as well — flu shots earn a 20-cent per gallon discount at the pump.