Chain drug retailers have stepped up their inoculation services in recent weeks, as supplies of the H1N1 flu vaccine have become more readily available.


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Rx is now ‘critical provider of vaccinations’

February 1st, 2010

NEW YORK – Chain drug retailers have stepped up their inoculation services in recent weeks, as supplies of the H1N1 flu vaccine have become more readily available.

At the same time, some health officials have reported that the public’s interest in getting vaccinated has lagged, and many Americans believe that the danger posed by the H1N1 virus has mainly passed.

Doctors, though, think another flu outbreak is still possible and are urging people to be immunized. President Obama even designated the week of January 10 through January 16 as National Influenza Vaccination Week.

“This week presents a window of opportunity for us to prevent a possible third wave of H1N1 flu in the United States,” the president said in a statement. “I strongly encourage those who have not yet received the H1N1 flu vaccine to do so.”

National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson took the occasion of the immunization drive to highlight the role that the nation’s pharmacies have played in administering vaccinations.

“With over 80,000 pharmacist-vaccinators in pharmacy settings and walk-in clinics in all 50 states — within five miles of the average American — pharmacy is truly the face of neighborhood health care and vaccination services,” Anderson wrote in a two-page letter to Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“NACDS and our member companies have done a tremendous job highlighting pharmacy as a critical provider of vaccinations and have worked to demonstrate pharmacy’s ability to quickly respond and react during a national health care pandemic.”

Walgreen Co. is among the chain drug retailers that have stepped up to make vaccination services readily available and convenient. The company reported that by the beginning of the designated national vaccination week, it had already administered more than 1 million H1N1 flu vaccinations in the current season.

“Reaching 1 million H1N1 vaccinations, most of which have come in the last three weeks, shows that Americans truly value greater convenience and access to our health care providers,” Walgreens senior vice president of pharmacy Kermit Crawford said at the time.

CVS Caremark Corp., meanwhile, used television, radio and Internet advertising to let consumers know about vaccine availability and the importance of getting an H1N1 vaccination. The company also expanded vaccine availability, offering immunizations at CVS stores or MinuteClinics in 34 states.

“H1N1 still has the potential to cause serious illness and even death during this flu season,” noted CVS Caremark chief medical officer Dr. Troyen Brennan.

Rite Aid Corp. rolled out H1N1 flu shots for just $15 at 1,257 Rite Aid stores in 30 states and the District of Columbia, the company said. In-store signs and brochures provided customers with information about both the H1N1 flu and the seasonal flu.

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