CVS Just Gave This Urgent Warning to All Customers
The pharmacy chain gave this important update ahead of the winter holidays.
CVS has been a vital aid in the fight against COVID, offering vaccinations, tests, and pandemic essentials at its nearly 10,000 locations across the U.S. While the pharmacy chain recently announced that it is planning to close 900 stores over the next few years, it's still working hard to help local communities stay healthy—and that goes well beyond the current pandemic. In fact, CVS just issued an urgent warning to all customers that might send you straight to your nearest location. Read on to find out what prompted the company to send out an important announcement.
CVS is warning customers to get their flu vaccine now.
In a Dec. 6 announcement, CVS Health said it is warning people in the U.S. that it is not too late to get their flu shot. Prem Shah, the executive vice president and chief pharmacy officer of CVS Health, said in a statement that there was a decline in flu cases last year "due in part to increased focus on personal hygiene and mask wearing as well as people spending less time in large gatherings and public places." But the winter flu season is expected to be more challenging.
"This year, as some Americans have returned to pre-pandemic routines and activities, we expect the number of flu cases may increase, and we strongly recommend that people get their annual flu shot to help increase their immunity and protect themselves, their families and their communities," Shah said.
Flu cases typically peak around the end of the year.
CVS' announcement comes at the start of National Influenza Vaccination Week, which runs this year from Dec. 5 to 11. According to CVS, the CDC established this week in 2005 to highlight the importance of flu vaccinations throughout the holiday season and into the new year, as flu activity typically hits its peak around this time.
"Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although significant activity can last as late as May," the CDC states. According to current data, flu activity is still low in the U.S. but it is slowly increasing.
"As the country continues the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, a flu shot remains the most effective way to protect against seasonal flu and is an important step individuals and families can take to help safeguard the overall health of the community and minimize the impact on strained health care resource," CVS states.
Most flu cases are occurring among younger adults.
Jason Singh, MD, an internal medicine specialist at Kaiser Permanente, told ABC-affiliate 7News in Arlington, Virginia, that 80 percent of influenza cases are occurring among young adults right now—which is a statistic that has been confirmed by the CDC. With that in mind, it's especially important to make sure you and any younger guests get vaccinated against the virus before gathering together for Christmas and New Year's.
The CDC has also reported that younger adults typically have the lowest flu vaccination rate in the U.S. This creates a "perfect storm for infections to increase and transmit," Singh said.
He added, "Going to college, work, getting together, that's where the cases are really rising and those are the folks that are bringing it back home and putting our elderly patients a little more at risk or those with chronic conditions at risk."
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You can get your flu and COVID vaccines at the same time.
Earlier this year, the CDC recommended that individuals wait a few weeks before getting any other vaccines after getting a COVID shot, but the agency has since changed this recommendation. "You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including a flu vaccine, at the same visit. Experience with other vaccines has shown that the way our bodies develop protection, known as an immune response, and possible side effects after getting vaccinated are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines," the CDC now states.
CVS says it is following the agency's updated guidelines. "CVS Health enables families to easily schedule their flu and COVID-19 vaccines together," the pharmacy chain confirmed in its recent announcement. "It is possible that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be circulating at the same time over the next few months, therefore it is more important than ever to get vaccinated."