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Don't put off the flu shot

When an on-site flu shot clinic came to Moda Health to offer employees the vaccine, Cecilia “Cece” Robaina, a clinical pharmacist at Moda, passed on the opportunity. She figured she would get it at her local pharmacy. It was a decision that would change her perspective about the flu shot.

Still putting off getting her flu shot, in February she went on an intense hike with friends near Mt. Hood. While they made it to the summit, she believes the 19-degree weather and freezing winds may have compromised her immune system.

When she returned to work, she remembers having the sniffles. Those sniffles soon turned into a cough. Then came the chills. Within a few days, a visit to urgent care confirmed something she had yet to experience in her life — she had the flu.

“As someone who knows and appreciates the benefits of vaccines, it’s sort of embarrassing that I didn’t take the time to get my flu shot,” she said. “We all get busy, things get in the way, and we forget to prioritize it. I just kept putting it off.”

For Cece, the cost of putting off the flu shot impacted her life in different ways. Not only did she have to endure several days of feeling miserable, she couldn’t sleep at night. She had to go to urgent care, pay for prescription cough medicine and use two PTO days to stay home and rest. She also missed a much-anticipated annual trip to the Oregon coast with her close friends. All of these factors taught her a valuable lesson: Don’t put off the flu shot.

As a pharmacist who has given over a hundred flu shots, she admits she knows better. However, because she’s been healthy all her life, she didn’t prioritize getting a flu shot.

“Part of being a pharmacist is to carry that hat of advocacy every year throughout the flu season,” she said. “It’s something I’m always thinking about, especially after my incident last year. Moving forward, I’m more passionate about getting the flu shot now that I’ve had the flu.”

Changing perspectives

Cece says that getting the flu has changed her approach to flu season.

“I really didn’t know how bad the flu could be,” she said. “Now that I’ve had it, and realize all the other implications that can come with it, it sort of lit a fire for me to go to the pharmacy and get my flu shot. Even if I end up getting the flu after the vaccine, I know it eases the severity of the flu symptoms.”

Cece’s experience taught her a few valuable lessons that she would like to share with others about the flu shot. They include:

  • Shift your perspective. Think of the flu shot as an opportunity to prevent the flu and possibly getting others sick later on.
  • Make it a priority. Don’t put getting the flu shot on the backburner. The longer you wait, the more you increase your chances of getting the flu.
  • Get the flu shot early. Getting the flu vaccine by October helps you become immune during the peak flu months of November through January.
  • It’s never too late. Cece got the flu in February. So, even if you missed getting the vaccine early, you should continue to make the effort to get it no matter what time of year.

Getting the message out

Everyone may know about the flu, but it’s a goal for Cece and the Moda Health Clinical Pharmacy team to provide a constant reminder for those who don’t think about it or have put off getting the flu shot. The team’s annual flu shot campaign gets the message out across as many avenues as they can, including member emails, flyers and social media.

“Our flu campaign lets people know about the different ways they can get the flu vaccine,” she said. “Getting the word out helps remind people of the importance of the flu vaccine. Ultimately, we want to help drive members to be proactive and to be their own health advocates.

“We are fortunate enough to have access to preventative therapies, such as the flu vaccine,” she added. “Everyone should get it; even when you feel healthy. You can make a doctor’s appointment, get it at work when it is offered, or at the same time you’re picking up your groceries. It can be as easy and convenient as that.”

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