Drug chains do part in battle against flu

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NEW YORK — Lewis Drugs this month continued a mass flu shot program, which is said to be unparalleled in the chain drug industry.

The retailer held full-blown 13-hour seasonal flu immunization clinics at six stores in Sioux Falls, S.D., where it is based. Other clinics will take place in stores outside the city later this year.

Staged twice annually, the clinics in the past have drawn up to 10,000 people, says Lewis president and chief executive officer Mark Griffin. The events are differentiated from other retail immunization programs by their inclusion of students from the University of South Dakota medical and nursing schools. More than 20 people may work at a clinic, expediting shots.

Lewis also capitalizes on the space afforded by stores as large as 50,000 square feet. The chain can dedicate 3,000 square feet in a store lobby to shots.

Media satellite pictures taken during the event and aired live three times a day for each clinic help boost participation. Seniors, who can get their shots free under Medicare, have embraced the clinics, Griffin says, noting that lines get “backed up out the door.” But an “assembly line process” moves the lines quickly, he adds.

If possible, Lewis will roll the event into the upcoming H1N1 flu prevention effort. The Food and Drug Administration this month approved four H1N1 vaccines. Distribution is expected to start by mid-October.

For its part, Kinney Drugs is offering seasonal flu and pneumonia clinics in all stores. Both seasonal flu and pneumonia vaccines will be free for people with Medicare Part B, and most insurance programs are accepted. The immunizations will be administered by a registered nurse. Anyone over age 9 is eligible for the flu shot, while the pneumonia vaccine is recommended for those over 18 who are at high risk.

All stores will be displaying a variety of products and free educational materials to help prevent the spread of the seasonal flu. Meanwhile, Kinney pharmacists are prepared to counsel patients on seasonal flu precautions as well as provide the latest updates on the H1N1 flu.

“We want to do our part to help people stay healthy during flu season by offering convenient locations and multiple clinics to receive their vaccination,” says Kinney president and chief operating officer Bridget-ann Hart.

Also offering flu and pneumonia vaccines is Snyder’s Drug Stores. “We believe that everyone who can, should get a flu shot,” says Snyder’s vice president of pharmacy Jodi Ristau.


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