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Preparing for flu season with Shepherdstown Pharmacy owner Kris Knott

By Staff | Oct 18, 2019

Shepherdstown Pharmacy owner Kris Knott speaks about preparing for flu season to the members of Shepherdstown Area Independent Living in September. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — In the 2017-2018 flu season, over 80,000 Americans died of influenza or influenza complications, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield.

In fact, the amount of pneumonia or influenza-related deaths “was at or above the epidemic threshold for 16 consecutive weeks” in the 2017-2018 season, according to the CDC. While it is unknown how intense the 2018-2019 flu season will be, the CDC recommends all Americans over the age of six months to get an annual influenza vaccination. Influenza vaccinations in the 2017-2018 season were about 40 percent effective against the influenza A and B viruses, according to the CDC.

Now that flu season is again upon us, Shepherdstown Pharmacy owner and pharmacist Kris Knott said it’s time for community members to get their vaccinations.

“I recommend getting it now, so it will be effective in the beginning of October through April, which is when the second round of flu season typically hits,” Knott said, during the September Shepherdstown Area Independent Brown Bag Luncheon.

“If you’re otherwise a healthy individual, get the four protected vaccine, rather than the three protective vaccine,” Knott said, referring to vaccines developed to protect the weaker immune systems of those ages 65-and-older against three strains of the flu virus. The vaccines for those with stronger immune systems protect against four strains of the flu virus.

According to Knott, while many people 65-and-older should get the vaccine designed for those in their age group, some people are exceptions to that rule and should consider getting the regular vaccine. Those who are unsure of which vaccine to get should schedule a consultation with Knott, by calling Shepherdstown Pharmacy at 304-876-9966.

One other vaccination many people 65-and-older should get is the pneumococcal vaccine.

“You should take three pneumonia shots in your lifetime,” Knott said. “As a pharmacist, I can look on the vaccination website and we what vaccines you’ve had.”

Each of the pneumococcal vaccines must be administered at a separate time, according to the CDC. But despite the inconvenience of having to go back for the second vaccine, getting the vaccinations might prevent someone from contracting pneumonia and the flu at the same time, which is most common in those with weaker immune systems.

“Having the flu increases your risk of getting pneumococcal disease,” the CDC website says. “Pneumococcal bacteria can cause many types of illnesses that range from mild to very severe. Pneumococcal disease can lead to disabilities like deafness, brain damage, or loss of arms or legs. These illnesses can be deadly, especially for: adults 65 years-or-older, people with chronic health conditions and people whose immune systems are weakened by disease or medicine (immunocompromised).”