HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — This week Kmart has started offering seasonal flu vaccinations on a walk-in basis through clinics at more than 900 pharmacy locations nationwide.
The discount store chain, part of Sears Holdings Corp., launched its annual flu shot program Thursday and said the immunizations will be available through October 30, while supplies last. The shots cost $25 each.
"Due to continuing concern over seasonal flu outbreaks this year, Kmart wants to remind the community that Kmart Pharmacy is a great resource for keeping families healthy this winter," Kmart Pharmacy divisional vice president Robbert Ayshford said in a statement.
And because of escalating public fears about the spread of the H1N1 "swine flu" virus, Kmart is urging customers to consult its pharmacists if they have any concerns about the upcoming flu season, which typically runs from November to May. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that an H1N1 vaccine won’t be available until mid-October at the earliest.
"There is a lot of confusion out there among consumers about the differences between seasonal flu and H1N1," according to Ayshford. "We encourage consumers to visit the Kmart Pharmacy nearest them and talk to a pharmacist face to face."
Kmart also is urging customers to take preventive measures against the flu. To that end, the retailer said its pharmacies have compiled a checklist and stocked up on more than 30 cold and flu essentials.
Those products include a variety of hand sanitizers from such brands as American Fare (in regular, foaming, aloe and shea butter formulations), GERMX (24-piece and 42-count wipes), FRESH’N UP (15-count antibacterial travel pack), Purell (original and aloe) and Persani. Also on the list are over-the-counter relievers from Mucinex, Alka-Seltzer Plus, American Fare and Pedialyte as well as Kleenex facial tissues, American Fare disinfecting wipes and Wet Ones wipes.
Kmart is the latest mass retailer to unveil a flu shot program in the last several weeks. Rival discounter Target Corp. last week said it has begun offering flu vaccinations via its health clinics and soon plans to make shots available through all its pharmacies. Other chains launching flu shot initiatives include drug chains CVS Caremark Corp, Walgreen Co. and Rite Aid Corp. as well as supermarket operators Supervalu Inc., Kroger Inc. and Safeway Inc.