Walgreen Co. is collaborating with National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) to encourage African-Americans with HIV to get recommended vaccinations.

Walgreens, HIV, pneumococcal vaccine, pneumococcal vaccinations, National Minority AIDS Council, NMAC, Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacies, people with HIV, Glen Pietrandoni, Kim Johnson

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Walgreens eases access to pneumonia vaccine for people with HIV

February 12th, 2014

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. is collaborating with National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) to encourage African-Americans with HIV to get recommended vaccinations.

Walgreens said Tuesday that, as the incidence of flu and pneumonia rises, it's deepening pharmacist training and expanding access to the pneumococcal vaccine specifically indicated for people with HIV.

Pneumococcal vaccinations for people with HIV are available at all Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacies. Walgreens added that specially trained pharmacists are working closely with doctors to understand patient needs and deliver individualized, comprehensive care, including vaccine administration.

The drug chain noted that people with HIV have a 35 times greater risk of getting pneumococcal disease than someone unaffected by HIV at a similar age. African-Americans are at an even higher risk since almost half of all new HIV infections are African-Americans, and this population group has the lowest seasonal vaccination rate, at around 40%.

"We understand that African-Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV and can be heavily impacted during the cold and flu season when pneumonia may be more prevalent," Glen Pietrandoni, director of specialty products and services for virology at Walgreens, said in a statement. "In addition to stocking our HIV-specialized pharmacies with the CDC-recommended vaccine, we have provided additional pharmacist training so that each of our more than 2,000 HIV-specialized pharmacists is prepared to provide both seasonal and general wellness consultations and administer this vitally important vaccination."

Walgreens said it has HIV-specialized pharmacies accessible to nearly 90% of the U.S. HIV population, making the chain well-positioned to serve vaccine preventable diseases in HIV-positive populations that were previously difficult to reach and often live in medically underserved areas.

"It is especially critical that people living with HIV remain vigilant not only about managing the virus but also protecting their overall health," stated Kim Johnson, NMAC director of community advancement and leadership strategies. "With cold, flu and pneumonia rampant, the importance of protecting already compromised immune systems is even more pronounced. This means getting vaccinated, eating well and regularly washing your hands. NMAC is pleased to partner with Walgreens to encourage minority communities to safeguard their health, by promoting and expanding access to critical preventive health services."