Walgreen Co. and online travel company Orbitz Worldwide have launched a year-long initiative to help keep travelers healthy.

Walgreens, Orbitz, travelers' health, holiday travel season, Cheryl Pegus, flu shot, flu vaccination, holiday travelers, flu season, Orbitz.com, Jeanenne Tornatore, drug stores

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Walgreens, Orbitz partnership eyes travelers' health

November 12th, 2010

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. and online travel company Orbitz Worldwide have launched a year-long initiative to help keep travelers healthy.

Under the partnership, announced Thursday, Walgreens and Orbitz plans to educate travelers on how to prevent illness and maintain health as well as collaborate on cross-promotional marketing programs, offer exclusive travel discounts and deals to the drug store chain's customers, and highlight consumer research and educational campaigns focused on being a healthy traveler.

With more than 40 million Americans slated to travel this holiday season, the two companies also released the results of a survey finding that 25% of holiday travelers have had travel plans interrupted by unexpected illness. The poll of 1,000 U.S. adults also revealed that even though 36% of travelers said they have received a flu shot this season, 44% don't plan to get one.

"This reinforces the need to educate travelers about important yet easy steps they can take to stay healthy during the holiday travel season," Cheryl Pegus, chief medical officer for Walgreens, said in a statement. "As travelers place a growing emphasis on health and wellness, we'll provide the resources and information to help them stay well throughout the year."

Of travelers surveyed, 59% said they feel travel isn't a factor in impacting their health, yet the remaining 41% believe that it does increase their chances of getting sick. The most common preventive measure people take to stay healthy when traveling over the holidays is to wash hands frequently and/or use sanitizers (58%), and getting a flu shot was the second most common measure, with 29% saying they get one as a practice.

The poll also shed some light on consumer beliefs about flu vaccinations. Of travelers surveyed who haven't received a flu shot, 52% said they don't believe they're effective, and 26% said they're afraid it may actually give them the flu. (According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health authorities, a person can't get the flu from an injectable flu vaccine, Walgreens and Orbitz reported.)

In addition, of the respondents that have gotten or plan to get a flu shot this season, 75% said their primary reason for doing so was as a "general precaution during the colder fall and winter months." Nearly 15% got a flu shot because they are traveling over the holidays or have children at home. Also, 61% of respondents with health insurance said flu shots are covered as a benefit by their insurer, and 18% indicated they don't know if flu shots are covered.

"This is an important time for flu shots and prevention because flu season peaks in January and February nearly 70% of the time," Pegus stated. "These are the coldest months, and they also happen to come right on the heels of the upcoming holidays."

Walgreens and Orbitz plan to work together on quarterly initiatives to promote healthy travel lifestyles. Walgreens customers will receive exclusive hotel and travel deals available through Orbitz.com, and Orbitz customers will benefit from special offers on products and services at Walgreens' 7,600-plus drug stores. Both companies will support the program with cross-promotional brand visibility, educational outreach to customers and ongoing publicity efforts throughout 2011.

"This partnership will help improve the holistic travel experience for individuals and families, first focusing on raising awareness for our customers about preventive health care measures that can help make for a happy holiday," commented Jeanenne Tornatore, senior travel editor of Orbitz.com. "A major underlying goal is to further educate and inform travelers and encourage them to be proactive about seeking advice from health care experts about how they can maintain a healthy lifestyle during the holidays."