Pharmacist hits road to give 4,000 flu vaccinations

Flu vaccinations at work in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — One IU Health professional thinks preventative care is so important that she’s leaving her pharmacy in Fishers and meeting people where they’re at to hopefully give around 4,000 flu shots this season.

Flu shots are not just the pinch when the needles go in. Recipients generally have to make a trip to the doctor’s office or a pharmacy to hopefully prevent an illness that some people convince themselves isn’t the worst thing in the world.

“Population health is important,” IU Health pharmacy manager Heidi Barnett said. “I think people need to be healthy. And if we can prevent the flu and prevent people from getting sick, it’s a win for everybody.”

From September through November, Barnett is often working several extra hours a day to get vaccines to people who can’t get into her pharmacy during normal hours. They include teachers at Carl Wilde Elementary School, an Indianapolis Public Schools facility on West 34th Street near Georgetown Road.

“In kindergarten, of course, the kids don’t necessarily have the best hygiene,” kindergarten teacher Karen Kober said. “So, it’s kind of like living in a sewer sometimes. So, a little extra protection helps.”

in 2018, 48.8 million people got the flu and nearly 80,000 people died from it. But even with the resources available at workplaces, Barnett said, it can be frustrating when people refuse the vaccination.

“People think they’re going to get sick from the flu vaccination,” Barnett said. “It’s not a live vaccination. You’re not going to get sick from it. I think that’s the biggest barrier to getting the flu shot is people think they’re going to get sick.”

But even if there’s only a handful of people getting the vaccination, Barnett said, that’s a handful of people not getting sick and not putting others at risk.

“It’s worth it because it’s helping people,” the pharmacist said. “And that’s my passion.”

Barnett said she’s going to keep giving flu shots at workplaces across the state until about mid-November, then she’ll continue to give more where she works at IU Health Saxony Retail Pharmacy in Fishers.

Also, many drugstores and pharmacies, including Walgreens and CVS, have flu shots that are free through most insurance.