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Community pharmacies gear up for flu shot season

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NEW YORK — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu shot for everyone over the age of six months, and retail pharmacies across the nation are spreading the word of their ability to provide such health services.

Walgreens is now offering flu shots at all of its pharmacies (including Duane Reade pharmacies in New York) and at all Walgreens Healthcare Clinic ­locations.

flu shot_cvs_tankutFlu vaccines are available during all pharmacy and clinic hours while an immunizing health professional is on duty, including evenings, overnights at 24-hour pharmacy locations, weekends and holidays, and no appointment is necessary. The flu shot is widely covered under most insurance plans, including Medicare Part B. Age restrictions vary by state at Walgreens pharmacies, while Healthcare Clinics can provide vaccinations for patients age 2 and older.

“For more than a decade, Walgreens pharmacists and Healthcare Clinic nurse practitioners have been a trusted and accessible community resource for flu shots and other immunizations,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of pharmacy and retail operations.

At Rite Aid Corp., customers can visit any of its nearly 4,600 pharmacy locations to receive a flu shot from a certified immunizing Rite Aid pharmacist, subject to state regulations. Flu shots are covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare Part B and are available during pharmacy hours. No appointment is necessary.

“Immunizations play a key role in a person’s overall health and wellness year-round, but this is especially true when it comes to protecting oneself from the flu,” said Jocelyn Konrad, Rite Aid executive vice president of pharmacy. “With more than 11,000 immunizing pharmacists and thousands of locations across the country, getting a flu shot at Rite Aid is a convenient and easy way for people to make sure that they are ­protected.”

Rite Aid pharmacies offer a number of vaccine options that may include the trivalent flu vaccine, which offers protection against three strains of the flu — the influenza A H3N2 virus, the influenza B virus and the influenza A H1N1 — a high-dose influenza vaccine for people age 65 and older, and a quadrivalent vaccine that protects against an additional influenza B virus.

A new survey from CVS Health found that more than one-third (34%) of U.S. adults who have ever received the flu shot determine where to get vaccinated based on convenience. Specific convenience factors that would make Americans more likely to have themselves and their families vaccinated against the flu include having the vaccine readily available without an appointment (28%) and being able to get the entire family vaccinated at one place/time (20%).

The survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CVS Pharmacy in July among over 2,000 U.S. adults 18 and older found that nearly half (46%) of Americans say that everyone in their household gets vaccinated for the flu, however, among this group two in five (39%) say it takes two or more trips/appointments to get this ­accomplished.

“We understand that while most Americans intend to get themselves and their family vaccinated against the flu each year, lack of convenience often prohibits them from accomplishing their goal,” said Papatya Tankut, vice president of pharmacy affairs at CVS Health. “That’s why we’re making it easier than ever to get the whole family vaccinated, quickly and easily, at their local CVS Pharmacy or MinuteClinic.”

Flu vaccinations are available seven days a week, including evenings and weekends at CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations nationwide with no appointment needed.

Meijer Inc. is encouraging customers to get flu shots early this fall by donating $5 to its signature hunger relief program, called Simply Give, for each flu shot administered at its 230 stores.

The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer will donate up to $1 million to the program that stocks the shelves of its food pantry partners across the Midwest while encouraging customers to get a jump on staying healthy this flu season.

“We are excited to help our customers fight the flu this season while also fighting hunger by participating in our Simply Give program,” said Tim Les­neski, senior vice president of drug store, pets and consumables for Meijer.

Similarly, Kroger Co. has announced a new health and wellness campaign in partnership with The Little Clinic and Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization. Through April 1, 2017, Kroger will donate one meal through the Feeding America network of food banks for every flu shot administered at all Kroger family of pharmacies or The Little Clinic locations.

“At Kroger, receiving the flu shot this year will do more than protect you and your families’ health. Throughout this flu season, we’ll provide a meal for a neighbor struggling with hunger for every flu shot administered in our pharmacies or The Little Clinic locations nationwide,” said Philecia Avery, Kroger’s vice president of ­pharmacy.

Albertsons Cos. pharmacies are now offering broad flu protection with the QIV flu vaccine. QIV offers protection against four of the most common strains of the flu virus and promises to help consumers maximize their protection against the flu this season.

“We want to do all we can to keep our communities healthy, which is why we chose to provide the four-strain flu vaccine this flu season,” said Mark Panzer, senior vice president of pharmacy health and wellness. “Our pharmacies are ready, day and evening, to provide vaccinations through our stores, pharmacies, and off-site flu clinics, making the process affordable and convenient.”


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