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Pharmacist group focused on flu shots

Now is the time to start thinking about getting your annual fall flu shot, and one group is trying to be sure its an easy process.

In conjunction with American Pharmacists Month, the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists is conducting Operation Immunization on the University of Mississippi campus on several different dates.

The first day for shots is Sept. 8 on the Grove stage from 12:30 to 5 p.m. and the last event planned is Oct. 2.

Marisa Pasquale, a second- year student pharmacist and the vice president of the pharmacist association, said the event is part of a national effort to increase the number of children and adults who get important vaccinations.

“Operation Immunization is an immunization awareness campaign designed to increase the public’s knowledge of immunizations while increasing the number of adults receiving immunizations,” she said. “We will be conducting a flu immunization event where students, faculty and the general public are invited to come get their flu shots and get more information about why vaccinations are so important.”

Pasquale said the highlight at last year’s event was immunizing Chris Fowler when ESPN was in town for GameDay. She said he was one of more than 1,000 who got a flu shot.

“This year we hope to reach even more people on campus,” she said. “We will be at several campus locations on several different dates to give as many people as possible the opportunity to get vaccinated.”

More than 170 members of the pharmacist association will volunteer to help and several faculty from the School of Pharmacy will supervise the efforts.

“We are excited to be partnered with the School of Nursing Sept. 14 at the Student Union from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Pasquale said. “For the other events, it is just the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists giving the flu vaccines, but we have partnered with SNPhA (Student National Pharmaceutical Association). They will be helping make signs to advertise the event and help with setting up the stations.”

Pasquale said the effort is strictly for flu shots, but everyone is encouraged to stay up to date on other immunizations. She said the event also targets primarily students, but everyone is encouraged to stop by.

“No money is required at the event,” she said. “Either the person’s health insurance will be billed (covering it for free) or student’s Bursar account will be charged $35. Students must bring their student ID and Insurance card if insurance is not on file with the University.”

She said each year the flu causes more than 226,000 hospitalizations and roughly 36,000 deaths.

“We as student pharmacists feel as though we have an important role to play in community health — especially when it comes to addressing vaccination myths or misconceptions,” Pasquale said. “We want people to live happy and healthy lives and staying up-to-date on vaccinations is a crucial part of that.”