Prevention information made available in Puerto Rico stores
The drug chain said Monday that all 120 of its drug stores in Puerto Rico will allocate space to provide information on CDC-recommended steps to avoid contracting the Zika virus, which is transmitted mainly via the bite of an infected mosquito.
Along with other health agencies, the CDC is investigating the association between Zika and microcephaly, a birth defect in which the baby’s head is smaller than expected and often has a smaller brain from improper development. Currently, no vaccine exists to prevent or treat Zika virus.
To make Zika virus prevention-related products more affordable and available in its Puerto Rico stores, Walgreens has lowered the price on CDC-recommended items, including insect repellent with DEET, condoms and thermometers to monitor for fever. Growing medical evidence suggests that the Zika virus may be sexually transmitted; as a result, the CDC is recommending that women, especially those who are pregnant or may become pregnant, and men who have traveled to or lived in an area with Zika virus, abstain from sex or use condoms during sex.
“As a pharmacy that champions everyone’s right to be happy and healthy, we are well-positioned to address concerns about how anyone can protect themselves and their families from Zika, while also providing many CDC-recommended prevention products,” Richard Ashworth, president of pharmacy and retail operations at Walgreens, said in a statement. “We’re proud to work closely with the CDC and the CDC Foundation to expand their efforts to prevent the spread of this disease.”
Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi commented, “It is gratifying to see that allies are continuously forming in education and prevention, as in the case of the CDC, the Puerto Rico Department of Health and Walgreens, who are collaborating to provide educational material about and access to Zika prevention products in Walgreens stores throughout Puerto Rico.”
Also as part of its public health initiative to help stem the disease, Walgreens is making a $100,000 donation to the CDC Foundation to aid its Zika virus education and prevention efforts.
“We are grateful to Walgreens for its innovative collaboration to help extend CDC’s Zika response,” stated Dr. Judith Monroe, president and chief executive officer of the CDC Foundation. “These efforts in reaching women with prevention messaging at a critical stage will help in protecting people. The CDC Foundation is proud to help support CDC efforts to combat this health threat.”
The World Health Organization has classified Zika as a public health emergency of international concern and is looking to develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics to fight the disease. According to the CDC, the most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain or conjunctivitis. The illness is typically mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by a mosquito.