WHITMAN — Annual flu shots sought by patrons of Duval’s Pharmacy have proven to be a financial shot in the arm for both the Whitman Food Pantry and the W-H Dollars for Scholars program.
For the fifth year in a row, the pharmacy has supported the program through which people receiving flu shots donated more than $1,000 in total through $5 donations per shot — $700 for the Food Pantry and $310 going to Dollars for Scholars.
“We ended up with 140 people picking the Food Pantry to donate to and 62 people picked the Dollard for Scholars,” said Pharmacy Manager Karen McManus. “John [Duval] came up with it maybe five years ago. He thought it would be a good way to have people get in, and do something good for the community — that’s what we try our best to do.”
“We let the customer choose which one [they supported],” said Craig Duval. “Some customers chose to donate on their own on top of our donation, but that wasn’t included in our total. Overall, it was a great turn out and we hope to do even better next year.”
One of the recent flu shot promotions aided four organizations, according to McManus.
“But it ended up cutting it really small for everybody, so we decided to stick with the two main ones,” she said.
While Duval’s has not put the donation program in place for the booster shots, McManus said some people ask about the COVID-19 booster while they are getting a flu shot and vice versa.
“There’s definitely been a lot of multiple shots being given at one time,” said McManus, who, along with pharmacist Kelly Nippins administers the vaccinations at Duval’s.
The most common questions people have regarding all vaccines — for COVID, flu or pneumonia — concern side effects, they explained. Both said that, while vaccines don’t prevent the flu or COVID 100 percent, it helps reduce the chance of becoming ill and ensuring symptoms would be milder and, hopefully prevent the need for hospitalization.
“They want to know what’s going to happen to them when they get the vaccine, whether it’s the flu or pneumonia — we give vaccines against shingles,” Nippins said.
“A lot of people worry about how it’s going to make them feel, especially the COVID shot,” McManus said.
“Definitely a sore arm is the most common side effect,” Nippins said.
At the moment, while they have test kits McManus said they were hard to come by. Ironically, she was speaking only hours before the White House opened an online ordering program for free test kits mailed to people through the link special.usps.com/testkits through which four free COVID test kits could be ordered by mail.
Where the smoking cessation program is concerned, it hinges on New Year’s resolutions, which, along with the November Great American Smokeout, are the most common times of the year for people to try to quit smoking, McManus said.
“We carry the [nicotine] patches, and the gum and the lozenges,” she said. “A lot of insurances cover it — some don’t — with a prescription. But if somebody shows interest and has a prescription and we fill their aides for smoking cessation, we’ll give them tips on how to be successful.”
This time of the year McManus tries to promote smoking cessation through informational stickers on pill bottles, as an additional reminder.
“It’s hard to do and we recognize that it’s an addiction and it’s hard to stop, ” she said. “But with the right aides in assisting that, a lot of people are successful.”