Birth Control Services

What is birth control? 

Birth control, otherwise known as contraception, is any method, medicine, or device used to prevent pregnancy. Medicine is a common way to prevent pregnancy and can be provided with a prescription order from a doctor or pharmacist.

How can I get birth control today?

  1. Schedule a visit: schedule your online visit and we will work with you to provide a personalized birth control plan. Your options include pills, injections, patches, or rings. 
  2. Health information: while we may not need a complete history on your health, we may need some information in order to make sure we provide the best care possible. Before your visit, you may be asked to fill out a form regarding your information, and you may be asked more about your medical history during your visit. 
  3. Your options: once we speak with you, we look at what your insurance may cover as well as what options you prefer. 
  4. Medication dispensing: In the same visit, you will be provided with a prescription for birth control that may be filled at one of our partners pharmacies or then pharmacy of your choice. You can pick up your birth control right away or have it mailed or delivered to you.

Will my insurance cover my visit?

The short answer is maybe.

If you have Medi-Cal insurance, your insurance will cover your visit and birth control medication as well. Medi-Cal will also be able to cover the cost of condoms.

If you have another type of insurance, your insurance will cover the cost of birth control medications but will not cover the cost of the visit. Our visit fees ($15-45) are lower than most other healthcare providers. You can use your health savings account or flex savings account to pay for the visit fee.

And you only need one visit per year. Any follow up communications (via email, text, or phone) or additional visits are included with no extra fee.

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Sexual Health: STD Testing

Why should I get tested? 

Getting tested is the only way for sexually active individuals to be 100% sure of their STD status and help prevent the spread of STDs. Relying on symptoms is not enough, as some patients may not present any STD symptoms or symptom onset may be delayed. Furthermore, STD symptoms can mirror other illnesses making them harder to diagnose unless they are being looked at specifically. If left untreated, STDs can have serious consequences for your health.

If I see my gynecologist, shouldn’t I be fine? 

STD checks may or may not be part of a routine well woman exam. Unless you have received this service from your doctor or clinic, you should get checked. This is especially the case for pregnant people, as many STDs can cause problems during pregnancy and/or be transmitted during delivery. 

How can I get checked today?

  1. Just let us know what test you would like. If you’re not sure, we can help you figure it out.
  2. Health information: while we may not need a complete history on your health, we may need some information in order to make sure we provide the best care possible. Before your visit, you may be asked to fill out a form regarding your information, and you may be asked more about your medical history during your visit. 
  3. Your test: based on your symptoms or preference, we will order tests for you. 

How much will my test cost? 

The Pharmacists Clinic offers a urine test for gonorrhea and chlamydia testing for $99 and a full STD panel (HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, and syphilis) for $199.

Other tests may be ordered and vary in cost. 

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School Immunization Requirement Changes

A number of changes are coming to the California school immunization requirements. Although the changes become effective July 1st, 2019, it’s not too early to start preparing.

Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, changes to the California school immunization requirement regulations include, but are not limited to:

• Requiring 2 (rather than 1) doses of chickenpox (varicella) vaccine at

  • Kindergarten entry

  • 7th grade advancement

  • K-12 admission or transfer

• Requiring 2 MMR doses and 3 Hepatitis B vaccine doses at admission or transfer more uniformly throughout K-12 (age restrictions are removed)

• Medical exemptions for new admissions may be signed only by a California-licensed MD/DO

• Each temporary medical exemption may be issued for no more than 12 months

Please watch for updates at

Best Time for Flu Shot

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people are strongly advised to get a flu vaccine before the end of October. Since the vaccination takes two weeks after administration to begin providing protection, it is recommended that people get the vaccination sooner rather than later, as the flu season usually begins to pick up by the end of October. 
While any of the approved flu vaccinations offer protection against the virus, there are some formulations that offer protection against more strains. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. Trivalent vaccines protect against three strains of the virus, while quadrivalent vaccines protect against a fourth additional strain. We carry the quadrivalent vaccine to provide our patients with the most protection from the flu.

For the 2017-2018 flu season, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. The nasal spray flu vaccine should not be used during 2017-2018. Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza. See People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications for a full list of age and health factors that confer increased risk.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against flu, so make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.

Schedule your flu shot with us today!

Hepatitis A Outbreak

San Diego is experiencing a Hepatitis A outbreak.  Here’s what you need to know about the disease.  It can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.

What is the source of the outbreak?

Since early 2017, the Public Health Services Division, in the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, has been investigating a local Hepatitis A outbreak. The outbreak investigation is ongoing. It has been challenging because of the long incubation period of the disease (15 to 50 days) and the difficulty experienced to contact many individuals sickened with the illness who are homeless and/or illicit drug users. To date, no common source of food, beverage, or other cause has been identified; as a result, the source of the outbreak remains undetermined.

How many people have been affected?

So far, there have been 312 people affected by the local outbreak.  Unfortunately, 10 people have died and 215 people have been hospitalized.

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus, which is highly contagious. It can cause liver disease, lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting months. In some cases, people can die.

How Is It Transmitted?

Hepatitis A virus is usually transmitted by:

  • Touching objects or eating food that someone with Hepatitis A infection handled.
  • Having sex with someone who has a Hepatitis A infection.

Take CDC’s Hepatitis Risk Assessment and get a personalized report in 5 minutes.

What Are the Symptoms?

Hepatitis A does not always cause symptoms. Some people get Hepatitis A and have no symptoms of the diseases. Adults are more likely to have symptoms than children.

Symptoms include fever, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, yellowing of the eyes (jaundice), stomach pain, vomiting, dark urine, pale stools, and diarrhea.

How Can Hepatitis A Be Prevented?

  • Get two shots of the Hepatitis A vaccine six months apart. The vaccine may be given as a twin vaccine against both Hepatitis A and B.
  • Don’t have sex with someone who has Hepatitis A infection.
  • Use your own towels, toothbrushes, and eating utensils.
  • Don’t share food, drinks, or smokes with other people.

Who Should Get the Hepatitis A Vaccine?

  • Individuals who are homeless.
  • Individuals who work with homeless and/or users of illegal drugs.
  • Travelers to countries with high or medium rates of Hepatitis A virus.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • Users of injection and non-injection illegal drugs.
  • Individuals with chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C.
  • Anyone who is concerned about Hepatitis A virus exposure and wants to be immune.
  • Persons with clotting factor disorders.

Note: individuals with chronic liver disease (i.e., cirrhosis and hepatitis C) may not be at increased risk of getting HAV infections but are at increased risk of having poor outcomes if they are infected with HAV.

We have the Hepatitis A vaccine in stock and can provide it for you without a prescription.  Our pharmacist will write the prescription and administer the vaccine in one quick visit.  Book your appointment today!


Here’s a video about the local outbreak:


Can You Make Quitting Smoking Your New Year’s Resolution?

We hope you had a wonderful time ringing in the new year!  Now it’s time to decide on your new year resolutions.  We have one in particular in mind that we can help you with.  So consider taking on this resolution:  Quit smoking.  Or help a loved one quit cigarettes or other tobacco products.  

We all know smoking is bad for our health and the health of those exposed to secondhand smoke too.  Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Californians suffer undue illness and premature death from the use of tobacco products.

Did you know we can help you by prescribing nicotine replacement medications?  Not just the gum, lozenges, and patches.  We can also give you prescription-only nicotine replacement medications like the nasal spray and inhaler.

 You may have tried to quit before, and felt discouraged if you were unable to stay quit. You may wonder what services are available to help you quit, or if you want help to quit.  A new California law allows pharmacists to provide prescription nicotine replacement medications without a doctor’s prescription to help you quit tobacco. This increases access to these medications for you, and makes them more affordable. Counseling and medication options are effective on their own, but are even more effective when combined. When you are ready to quit tobacco, remember to ask your pharmacist for help.

You can book your appointment on our website or give us a call today!

Hope to see you in clinic soon!  


Tobacco smoke interacts with medications and affects the absorption, distribution, metabolism, or elimination of other drugs, potentially causing an altered pharmacologic response. Any smoker is susceptible to the same degree of interaction. Some of the most significant interactions are with the following medications:

  • Caffeine
  • Coumadin (warfarin)
  • Plavix (clopidogrel)
  • Hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills, patch, ring)
  • Clozaril (clozapine)
  • Lopressor or Toprol XL (metoprolol)
  • Zyprexa (olanzapine)
  • Insulin
  • Requip (ropinirole)
  • Chemotherapy: Camptosar (irinotecan) and Tarceva (erlotinib)

If you smoke and take any medications, we can review any potential interactions and make sure your dosages are appropriate and monitor for complications.


Flu Myths and Tips


You’re probably aware that we’ve officially entered both the holiday season and flu season. This year, we’d like to help you focus on the spirit of giving…except when it comes to giving the flu!

There’s still time to get a flu shot. Flu season lasts through Spring each year. In fact, in June of this year there was a late-season flu-related death here in San Diego County. Regardless of age or health condition, anyone can catch the flu, and get very sick. Even if it’s a mild case, he or she can still spread it to other people, like family, friends and co-workers. People with flu are contagious even before they develop symptoms. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get this important protection.

Our clinic has been full of the holiday spirit as families, couples, children, and adults of all ages have been coming in for their flu shots.  For those of you who have already come in for your flu shot, kudos!  For those of you who haven’t had the time or might be hesitant to get the flu shot, please take a few minutes out of your schedule to squeeze this important preventive health visit in.  We can provide flu vaccines to anyone who is 4 years of age or older.  If you have health insurance, the cost may be covered.  For example, Medicare covers this vaccine.  If you don’t have insurance, we have the lowest prices  (only $25 for the regular flu shot that covers 4 virus strains and $54 for the high dose flu shot if you are over age 65).

You can book your appointment on our website or give us a call today!

Hope to see you in clinic soon!  Happy Holidays!


In addition to protecting yourself with the flu shot, there are some other things you can do to help avoid getting sick with the flu, colds and other respiratory diseases (and avoid spreading illness to others):

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue or your arm.
  • Wash your hands often, with plenty of soap and warm water.      
  • Stay away from sick people whenever possible.
  • Stay home when you’re sick.
  • Get enough rest, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.

These tips are helpful in protecting your health all year, not just during flu season.

flu-shot-mythsMYTH #1: The flu shot gives you the flu.

The flu shot doesn’t give you the flu, because it can’t. The flu shot contains killed virus. That killed virus can’t infect you and give you the flu. You may have received a flu shot in the past and then become sick after that. But it wasn’t caused by the flu shot. It could be that you were already infected with the flu before you got the shot.  Or it could be that you had become infected with another strain of the flu that wasn’t in the vaccine. Or you may have had a respiratory infection or a cold, and experienced flu-like symptoms. But that doesn’t mean you had the flu.

MYTH #2: I don’t need the flu shot because I never get sick.

Even if you have never been sick, that doesn’t mean you will never get sick. If your loved ones have never been in a car accident, does that mean they shouldn’t have to wear a seat belt? Of course your answer is NO, so why take chances with the flu? The virus doesn’t care how healthy you’ve been. You can still catch the flu and become very ill. You can miss work, school and other important activities in your life. And you can make others sick, too—including people who have health conditions like heart disease or cancer that make them especially vulnerable to flu and its complications like pneumonia. The flu can even be fatal. (For stories about real people whose lives were touched by vaccine preventable diseases like influenza, visit

MYTH #3: The flu isn’t a big deal.

We wish that was true! Last year in San Diego County alone, there were nearly 7,000 cases of flu that resulted in 120 hospitalizations in the intensive care unit (ICU) and 68 deaths.

Let’s Talk About Plan B (and other forms of emergency contraception)



Practicing safe sex is very important for many reasons. One reason we will focus on today is preventing unplanned pregnancies even after having unprotected sex. This is where emergency contraception (“EC”) enters the scene — it helps prevent pregnancy after the deed is done. Some people still call it the “morning after pill” but you have a bit more time than that to get your hands on it. Plan B is usually the first to come to mind we think of EC — but there are other options  and we will be discussing those as well!

When should you use emergency contraception?

If you had unprotected sex, EC can be used to prevent pregnancy. EC is most effective if taken right after unprotected sex occurs but can actually be used up to 5 days after (Side Note: as days go by, the effectiveness goes byebye).

Are there any side effects?

The side effects of Plan B are similar to other hormonal birth control and generally not an issue for most people. In case you do have any side effects, these are normal:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fatigue or dizziness
  • Tender breasts
  • Abdominal pain or cramps

These side effects only last a couple days. Also, your menstrual cycle may become affected (light, heavy, early, or late). Do not worry if this occurs. However, if you have severe abdominal pain or do not get your next period, please visit your primary care physician or gynecologist.

Is Plan B FDA-approved?

Yes! It’s a very safe medication that has no contraindications or safety concerns.

Are there options other than Plan B?

Yes! Let’s dive right into this subject!

There are a few options available to you.  The first is the popular Plan B One-Step pill or one of its many generic forms (Take Action, Aftera, React, MyWay, etc).

The second is the Ella pill, which is less famous because it requires a prescription but works a bit better than Plan B.  You can only pick one of these two pills. Taking both is a recipe for failure since they basically cancel each other out, so please don’t try it.

Your third and most effective option is the copper IUD. If you’re interested in this one, check with your local clinics to see if you can get it quickly enough. It’s a good idea to take one of the pill options while you figure out the IUD.

How do EC pills work?

Little known fact, it can take up to 6 days for the sperm and egg to meet after having unprotected sex. This form of birth control causes the woman’s ovary to delay releasing the egg. Hence, there will be no egg for the sperm to meet! Sorry guys.

Now that we’ve discussed these options, you’re probably wondering how you can get a hold of them…

No matter how old you are or your gender, anyone can buy Plan B or one of its generic versions over-the-counter — that means no prescription needed — at your local pharmacy. However, everyone needs a prescription for Ella. A prescription for Plan B will probably help get your insurance to pay for it though.

You can meet with Dr. Sally at The Pharmacists Clinic and get a prescription for EC or other methods of birth control. Tip: Go in and get it before you need it. That way you can just grab it out of your medicine cabinet if the situation presents itself.

Remember, these are back up and there are more effective methods of birth control that can be used before you jump in between the sheets.


About the Author:

Bianca S. Faridian is a third-year pharmacy student at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Hormonal Therapy & Endo Workshop

Later this month, I’ll be speaking to women with endometriosis about hormonal birth control and other treatment options. I’m sure they will have great questions and experiences that will inspire future blog posts.  Let me know if you’re interested in attending this free lecture at the Mission Valley public library in San Diego, California.

Bloomin' Uterus


August 31, 2016, from 6:00pm-7:00pm (you can arrive as early as 5:45pm)

Mission Valley Library; Seminar Room A; 2123 Fenton Pkwy, San Diego, CA 92108

Join us to discuss Endometriosis treatment options with clinical pharmacist, Dr. Sally Rafie. Our focus will be on hormonal therapy, such as hormonal birth control and other hormone regulators. We will review effectiveness, side effects, and common concerns.

The talk will be interactive and casual, so please send in your questions in advance (to or bring them with you!


Dr. Sally Rafie, PharmD, BCPS
The Pharmacists Clinic

IMPORTANT: seating is severely limited. As of this moment, there are only 9 seats available.  If you RSVP and need to cancel, please let me know so I may review the waiting list. You will receive a confirming message from me that you are on the seating list, as well as my telephone number…

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5 Tips To Remember Your Birth Control

Remembering to do something as important as taking your birth control everyday and on time can be quite difficult — Especially with our hectic schedules! Here are some tips and tricks to help remind you:

1. Put it next to something you use every day.

Do you brush your teeth at about the same time everyday? Do you wear contacts? Do you take other medicines? Try pairing one of these daily routines with taking your birth control.img_4904

2. Use your phone.

In this day and age, our generation is attached to their phones. Why not have a special alert or alarm to remind you to take your birth control? Maybe even choose the crying baby ringtone?

  • Alerts. Advice from prior experience: Have two alerts. Due to busy schedules, sometimes it slips your mind even if you saw your alarm go off. Better safe than sorry!
  • Apps. Some of us love our apps! Everheard of WomanLog or MyPill? Or even Google calendar? There are lots of apps you can try.
  • Messages. Sign up for free text message reminders to take your pill from Bedsider. These messages will put a smile on your face and help you remember to take your

3. Not interested in technology?

  • Use sticky notes! Add one to your bathroom mirror or maybe even on your coffeemaker? Add it anywhere you know you’re bound to see it everyday.
  • If you have a to-do list that you love checking off, add another bullet point for your birth control. It’s a task you must complete each day!

4. This one is for all the fur-mommies out there!

Cats and dogs are persistent when it’s time to feed them. They’re always right on the dot. So, what did I do? I placed my birth control right next to the cat food. Whenever they alert me to feed them, it’s an instant reminder to take my pill as well. It’s perfect because they don’t stop meowing until fed! This can work with other furbabies too.


5. Put it in your wallet.

Work and school are busy, but you always have a lunch break. Need to pay for lunch? What do you do? You open up your wallet! It’ll be the first thing you see. I’ve even seen women use their pill pouches as wallets and store some cash or credit cards. Want something a little more unique? Try one of these hand-painted pill wallets.


Anything to Add?  We know many of you have your own ways of remembering to take your pill on time everyday, so please share in the comments! Reading about what works for you might help another reader!


About the Author:

Bianca S. Faridian is a third-year pharmacy student at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.