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Arkansas pharmacy sees increased interest in COVID booster as they prepare for flu season

Experts said that now is the time to start thinking about getting your annual flu shot.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As more Arkansas pharmacies and medical centers are getting shipments of the new COVID booster, people have been lining up to get the shot.  

Meanwhile, experts have said that it's also time to start thinking about the flu vaccine. 

"We have just been basically all day every day, the hours we're open giving vaccines," said Anne Pace, owner of Kavanaugh Pharmacy.

Pace said that she hasn't seen this many people come in for a COVID shot since last fall. 

"We are taking appointments on our website, we're trying to accept walk-ins as best we can. But to say it's crazy in the pharmacy, that's an understatement," Pace said.

She said that roughly 25% of people coming in want to get both the COVID and flu shot. 

"We're happy to accommodate that. So we can get people both vaccines at the same time," Pace said.

Medical Director for Immunizations with the Arkansas Department of Health, Dr. Joel Tumlison, said that it can be hard to predict what kind of flu season we're going to have this year.

However, he added that more relaxed COVID guidelines could play a role. 

"There seem to be fewer people taking masking measures, social distancing is you know, we're not doing that very much anymore. So you know, you could think, yeah, we might have a worse flu season for those reasons," Dr. Tumlison said.

According to the ADH, more than 735,000 Arkansans got the flu shot during the 2020/2021 flu season. 

Then in 2021 going into 2022, roughly 661,000 received it. 

"We certainly hope that flu vaccination numbers will be better this year than they were in 2021," he said.

Dr. Tumlison said that more flu vaccine clinics should help with that this year. 

"Local health units are doing more community flu events at their local health units than maybe were done in the last year due to workload with COVID vaccination and other things," he said.

No matter which shot you choose to get, Pace asked that customers will be patient. 

"We're gonna get everybody in as best as we can. But there may be a few minute wait to try to get everybody's insurance and all of their paperwork processed to make sure that we do it safely and we get you the right vaccine," Pace said.

Pace said that anyone 12 and older can receive the Pfizer booster two months after getting their last shot— and the same goes for Moderna, but you must be 18 or older.

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