Did you know that one out of three Americans is at risk for contracting the shingles virus this winter? Or that we’re experiencing the worst outbreak of whooping cough in over 50 years? According to renowned physician Dr. Alan London, these startling statistics can all be prevented by being vaccinated. Dr. London joined me recently to discuss how you can protect yourself from these diseases and more this winter, and Walgreens new immunization assessment program.
Renowned physician Dr. Alan London.
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about the recent survey that took place?
Dr. Alan London: “Yes, Walgreens just conducted a survey of consumer perceptions about vaccinations and it quite interesting. People are highly aware of the need to be vaccinated against certain contagious diseases and that actually don’t know what they themselves need. That’s what we’ve found.”
Candace Rose: And were there any results that surprised you?
Dr. Alan London: “Well, beyond that 90% of people knew that vaccines are available. Only 40% knew what they needed.
Shingles is another area of a lot of attention recently. That’s an outbreak of the chickenpox virus that all of us had as children and now has a chance of infecting one out of three adults in older years. There are a lot of misconceptions about them. Most of the surveyed folks thought that one in eight had a chance of getting it (as I said one in three). And the other misconception they thought that washing hands and getting extra sleep during the winter would prevent shingles, and that has nothing to do with preventing it. Only one chance you have of preventing it and that’s getting the Zoster vaccine.”
Candace Rose: How have the latest immunization trends impacted herd immunity and why is it important?
Dr. Alan London: “Well, herd immunity is an interesting concept. It’s a scientific concept that says once 85 to 95% of people in a community are immunized or immune to a disease it’s very hard for that virus or bacteria to cause an epidemic or an outbreak in that community. So we really need all of the folks in a community to be immunized. It’s not just for yourself and your immediate family, but for everyone there.
And the best example of where this has become apparent is whooping cough. Whooping cough we haven’t seen for decades in this country. We’re all immunized as young children, and now we’re seeing the worst outbreak in 50 years across the U.S., so we need to pay a lot of attention to whooping cough.”
Candace Rose: What shots should travelers be considering for the holidays and when?
Dr. Alan London: “So holiday time- Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years we’re all crowded into houses at parties. The weather is colder and viruses flourish in colder weather. We’re on planes, trains, buses and things like that so all of the contagious diseases really spread. Everyone has to get a flu shot, it’s very important. The flu changes every year, and so if you had one last year, that’s great, but that doesn’t give you immunity for the new viruses this year. It’s simple, it’s covered by most insurance plans. There’s either zero or small co-pay. And we offer that at all the Walgreens stores.
This year we decided to also offer an immunization assessment, so you come in and get your flu shot and then sit down with a pharmacist or one of our nurse practitioners and by age and past history go by what else is it is that you might need.
And one last thing for travelers, that whooping cough, adults need to be getting a booster shot right now before the holiday travel season because it looks like those of us that thought we’d have lifetime immunity don’t. And if you’re an adult you need a booster shot of the vaccine to prevent whooping cough.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional information to share with us?
Dr. Alan London: “I do. Walgreens.com/Flu, we created all sorts of information. And I just want to reiterate we opened up access for patients and consumers all over the country to get information and the actual vaccines at any Walgreens store all of the hours that we’re open seven days a week, so I’d encourage people to find out what they need, protect themselves and their communities.