MERIDEN — Flu season is fast approaching and the vaccine is starting to be offered throughout the community.
The Record-Journal recently hosted a flu clinic and sat down with pharmacist Nicole Davoren to talk about the flu shot, her work routine and changes in the pharmaceutical field.
Q: What does a pharmacist like yourself do?
Davoren: I’m a pharmacist at Walgreens (in Meriden), so a pharmacist in the community is a lot different from a pharmacist at a hospital. When a prescription comes in we make sure we enter it correctly, but not just that. The pharmacist looks at if there is any medication interactions, we look to make sure that the medicine is correct for the patient, if it’s a correct dose. So we’re looking at a lot of different things ... We’re really there to talk to our patients.
Q: What is that communication like?
Davoren: Patients come up to me and ask a lot about over-the-counter items. So we’re there to answer any questions beyond certain things the doctor didn’t go over with the patient.
Q: Are you getting a lot of questions about the flu lately?
Davoren: Yes. Since last season was so bad it seems like people are really interested in getting the vaccine, especially this year. Everyone over the age of six-months old is technically able to get the vaccine. You can get it from the pharmacist if you’re 18 and over. You don’t need to make an appointment. It’s a lot better for patients because we’re so accessible rather than going to their doctor’s office to get it.
Q: How effective is the vaccine this year?
Davoren: A lot of people ask if it’s going to be good or not as far as coverage but we don’t have the data yet. It’s always recommended that you get it because it’s preventative care.
Q: What do you advise to patients that are experiencing flu symptoms?
Davoren: The biggest thing is when you have flu symptoms and flu-like symptoms you have to go to the doctor’s office right away because some of the anti-viral medicines that we have need to be started within 24 to 48 hours of getting symptoms.
Q: How did you get into the field?
Davoren: I went to UConn and they have a really great pharmacy school. It’s just something that I’ve always been interested in and I wanted to work in a fast paced work environment. We also get to be very clinical now, especially with giving immunizations. Every day is a new day for me and I just really enjoy the clinical aspect as well like looking at medication interactions. You can really impact people’s lives in a positive way.
Q: When did you start working as a pharmacist?
Davoren: I graduated last year so this year has been kind of a whirlwind, but exciting. I was an intern for about five years and then I became a pharmacist last year, graduated in the summer and now I’m here.
Q: Have there been any big changes in the last few years in your field?
Davoren: Not many that I have seen yet just because I haven’t been a pharmacist for that long, but I know in terms of talking to other pharmacists just being able to give immunizations was a big change for them. It brings more people to the pharmacy and it really gives pharmacists a better role in the health care community, so that was a big change for us in a good direction.
Q: What role do you play in giving flu vaccines, like you are doing today at our office?
Davoren: Whenever I give a flu shot I have to make sure I’m giving the correct shot – there are a couple different kinds. If you’re 65 or older you can get a higher dose vaccine that helps boost your immunity. If not we also have a four-strain shot that we just give to people who are 18 and over. You just kind of go over that and ask them a couple questions and give the shot.
Q: Who is most at risk for the flu?
Davoren: People who are older and young children have a higher risk (of getting a severe case). A lot of people that died last year were unfortunately younger. So that’s the main reason I get my flu shot, I want to protect not only myself but also my grandmother who can have a lot worse side effects if she got the flu and also if I’m around any infants. You always want to make sure you’re protecting yourself and them.
Q: What makes you really love what you do?
Davoren: I like to talk to people, I like that people really trust me as a pharmacist ... that’s something that I really learned in the past year that my word is taken very seriously. I really enjoy giving immunizations because it’s a lot of one-on-one.