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Flu shots

College of Pharmacy to prepare students to be on the front line in fighting flu epidemic

Posted: 01/31/2013
Roosevelt University’s College of Pharmacy in Schaumburg will teach more than 70 of its PharmD students how to give flu vaccinations during a certification training program that culminates on Feb. 7 with immunization demonstrations by students.

The 20-hour seminar, which provides immunization certification through the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), will make it possible for 137 students now enrolled at the College of Pharmacy to be on the front line in fighting flu in their communities during this season and beyond. (Above, College of Pharmacy student Thuy Tran, who received the training and her certification last year, gives a vaccination).

“While pharmacists have been immunizing for the last 10 years, there’s been this slow build in public interest in going to a pharmacy rather than a doctor’s office for the flu shot,” said Cara Brock, the College of Pharmacy’s director of professional labs who also leads the immunization training.

In fact, the number of doses of influenza vaccine administered in supermarkets and pharmacies increased from 6 million in 2006-07 to 17 million in 2010-11, according to a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control.

“There’s an expectation today that all of our students, as well as pharmacists in general, will be certified and able to give vaccinations,” Brock said.

Sixty-six members of the College of Pharmacy’s inaugural PharmD class, which will graduate in 2014, were certified to give flu vaccinations in late 2011, paving the way for a number of Roosevelt PharmD students to be on the front line fighting flu in the suburbs during much of this year’s epidemic flu season.

“It’s been a great experience for me and one in which I’ve really felt like I’m helping people,” said Emily Swayka, a Roosevelt PharmD candidate and certified pharmacy technician who has given more than 50 flu shots at CVS/Pharmacy in Glendale Heights.

A recent winner of the National Association of Chain Drug Store Foundation’s Leonard J. DeMino Pharmacy Student Scholarship, Swayka, of Westmont, Ill., also has created flu-awareness flyers and has advised members of the public, particularly those over 65 years of age, about the importance of getting a flu shot.

PharmD candidate Thuy Tran of Schaumburg, who also received immunization training and certification a little over a year ago at the College of Pharmacy, said the experience enabled her to help hundreds in the region’s suburbs to avoid the scourge of the flu this season.

“The experience has helped me to practice for my future,” said Tran, who has given as many as 20 flu shots daily as a certified technician at CVS/Pharmacy in Highland Park and as a volunteer for a flu clinic held last fall at River Casino in Des Plaines. “It has helped me learn to communicate, which is an important part of being a pharmacist today,” Tran said.