Through national programs, local public-private initiatives and individual efforts of chain drug stores, retail pharmacists are gaining increased recognition as providers of influenza ­vaccinations.


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Drug chains’ flu shot programs have an impact

August 29th, 2011

NEW YORK – Through national programs, local public-private initiatives and individual efforts of chain drug stores, retail pharmacists are gaining increased recognition as providers of influenza ­vaccinations.

For example, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores recently received a certificate of appreciation from assistant surgeon general Anne Schuchat recognizing NACDS’ participation in the National Influenza Vaccine Summit.

Schuchat states that the summit’s efforts have contributed “to increased investment in influenza vaccination by community vaccinators, pharmacies” and other complementary vaccine providers.

And earlier this month NACDS highlighted the results of a public-private partnership campaign in Palm Beach County, Fla., emphasizing the role that pharmacies play in helping patients prepare for the flu season — including administering flu immunizations.

The partnership was comprised of the Palm Beach County Health Department (PBCHD), Palm Beach County Pharmacy Association and several local pharmacies.
Results of the partnership campaign were published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice (coauthored by NACDS).

“The success of this program described in the journal provides additional support for efforts to expand the age ranges and types of vaccinations for which pharmacists have authority. It also demonstrates yet again the unsurpassed value of pharmacy in improving patient health and lowering health care costs,” says NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson.

The objective of the program was for the PBCHD to collaborate with community pharmacies, pharmacy-based retail clinics and others in a widespread H1N1 influenza campaign and to disseminate public health recommendations and information using “flu ready cards.”

Participants included Walgreen Co. and CVS Caremark Corp. drug stores, Winn-Dixie Supermarket Pharmacies, Publix Pharmacy and the county pharmacy association.

Around 40,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine were shipped to local pharmacies and retail health clinics to immunize the public. Eighty percent of store managers surveyed and 52% of pharmacists reported that the flu ready cards were useful, and more than 60% of both groups agreed that the partnership with the PBCHD was useful during the September 2009 through March 2010 countywide H1N1 influenza pandemic response.

This year CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic are helping the public fight the flu with convenient access for consumers looking to get a flu shot. All CVS/pharmacy locations as well as all MinuteClinic sites, which are located inside select CVS/pharmacy stores, will provide flu shots every day with no appointment necessary, including evenings and weekends.

CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic will also make flu vaccines more accessible this year by providing direct medical billing to many national and regional health insurance plans that will cover all or part of the cost of a flu shot.

Besides the seasonal flu vaccine, CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic will offer Fluzone High-Dose this season, which will be available for people 65 and older. The higher-dose vaccine is designed to provide stronger protection from influenza to this age group.

“By providing 7,800 retail locations that can offer vaccinations, CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic will make getting a flu shot easier than ever this season,” says Papatya Tankut, vice president of pharmacy professional services.

Similarly, all Walgreens and Duane Reade pharmacies and more than 350 Take Care Clinics are offering flu shots on a daily basis and with no appointment needed during pharmacy and clinic hours. Also new this season, patients who want a flu shot appointment at any Walgreens store can schedule one online at www.walgreens.com. Take Care Clinics can administer flu shots to patients 2 years of age and older.

“Our customers value the access we provide, as well as the trusted relationship they have with our pharmacists and other health care professionals, more than 27,000 of whom are clinically experienced in providing flu shots and other immunizations,” says Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness.

All Walgreens points of care also offer the Fluzone HD flu vaccine for those over 65.

Regional pharmacies are also involved in the immunization effort. Kinney Drugs will administer immunizations for seasonal flu by appointment at 91 stores. “Kinney Drugs is helping to keep communities healthy and reduce health care costs for our customers,” says Mike Duteau, vice president of pharmacy operations.

And Kerr Drug kicked off its 2011 flu vaccination campaign this month by providing immunizations on a walk-in basis during operating hours at most of its pharmacies throughout North Carolina.

Kerr Drug will also provide flu vaccines at its booth during the 2011 North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh, which is being held October 13 to October 23.

“The protection from flu shots only lasts for one flu season, so people need to get a new shot this year even though the vaccine is similar to last year’s,” comments Tony Civello, CEO of Kerr Drug.

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