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Walgreens answers call for pertussis, flu vaccines
December 14th, 2011
DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. is leveraging the accessibility of its drug stores to help provide pertussis and flu vaccinations to people in its home state.
Walgreens said late Tuesday that has expanded availability of immunizations for whooping cough to all of its more than 580 pharmacies in Illinois. The pertussis vaccine (tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis-Tdap vaccine) is offered daily on a walk-in basis. All Take Care Clinics in the state, located in over 45 Walgreens stores, also offer the immunizations daily and can administer vaccine to people age 11 to 64.
The drug store chain noted that a rising number of Illinois counties have reported their highest numbers of whooping cough cases in recent years, and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on Tuesday alerted residents to a flurry of pertussis outbreaks.
For example, McHenry County has reported an outbreak of over 200 whooping cough cases, a county record, which it said is affecting more than 30 schools. A growing number of cases are also being reported in Lake and Cook counties and in surrounding Chicago-area counties.
"We note the recommendations of health officials that the best thing people can do to keep themselves and their families healthy during a possible outbreak is to get vaccinated," Denise Scarpelli, Illinois market pharmacy director for Walgreens, said in a statement. "In addition to children, who are the most vulnerable, those who care for or are in contact with children should also be immunized. We hope that through greater access to immunizations, we can keep our communities healthy and help limit the spread of the virus."
Walgreens said that according to IDPH, more than 1,100 people in Illinois have come down with pertussis this year. State health officials are working to educate consumers about the virus leading up to winter break for schools and the holiday travel season, the drug chain added.
Meanwhile, in the Windy City, Walgreens has teamed up with Access Community Health Network of Chicago (ACCESS) provide more than 10,000 free flu shot vouchers in the city's medically underserved communities.
The pharmacy chain said Wednesday that qualifying individuals can get a flu shot voucher at any of the 50 ACCESS community health centers in the Chicago area. The vouchers are good for one flu shot at any Walgreens pharmacy or Take Care Clinic. To be eligible to receive a voucher, a patient must not have insurance coverage for a flu vaccination and not be able to afford one without the assistance of the voucher.
"Heading into what are traditionally the peak months for flu activity in Chicago, this is another way we're helping to protect more people from influenza and providing convenient access to Walgreens flu shots in medically underserved communities," stated Ron Weinert, vice president of health systems services at Walgreens. "Our relationship with ACCESS demonstrates the valuable role Walgreens pharmacists are playing in health care today, coordinating care to improve patient outcomes and lower costs as part of a patient's care team. It also underscores the importance of residents in our community being linked to a medical home."
Walgreens noted that it has worked with ACCESS for over a year to improve community health and lessen racial and ethnic health disparities in underserved Chicago communities. For instance, the chain said that in November it opened an on-site pharmacy at the ACCESS Genesis Center for Health and Empowerment health center in Des Plaines, Ill., which cares for an underserved Hispanic population.
"By working closely with the pharmacy leadership at Walgreens, we at ACCESS believe that with our shared vision, we can improve access to care, care coordination, quality and health education and transform the primary care medical home approaches at ACCESS and serve as a national model," commented Donna Thompson, chief executive officer of Access Community Health Network.