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With community pharmacies within three miles of nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population, Walgreens (NYSE: WAG)(NASDAQ: WAG) is America’s most trusted retail health care destination for flu shots and is now offering immunizations daily at all of its more than 7,700 stores nationwide, including all Duane Reade pharmacies in New York and more than 350 Take Care Clinics.
Flu shots are available daily with no appointment necessary during all pharmacy and clinic hours. New this season, patients who desire a flu shot appointment at any Walgreens may schedule one online at www.walgreens.com. State, age and health condition-related restrictions may apply. Take Care Clinics can administer flu shots to patients age 2 and above.
“Our customers value the access we provide, as well as the trusted relationship they have with our pharmacists and other health care professionals, more than 27,000 of whom are clinically experienced in providing flu shots and other immunizations,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. “A Walgreens flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and those around you and to stay well during what is always an unpredictable flu season.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) again recommends a flu shot for everyone over the age of six months and recommends vaccination every season in order to be fully-protected against influenza.
Flu shots are covered under Medicare Part B as well as most insurance plans. All Walgreens points of care also offer Fluzone HD, a high-dose influenza vaccine for those over age 65 and other qualified individuals.
Direct medical billing options are also available through a variety of insurance carriers, including UnitedHealthcare and CIGNA nationally, as well as a number of regional providers in select states. The option allows patients with these plans to have a flu shot seamlessly billed to their insurance provider and, depending on the plan, the patient may have little or no out-of-pocket costs.
Flu Program Makes an Impact in Communities with Health Care Professional Shortages
Through its flu shot program, Walgreens plays a leading role in providing immunizations in health care professional shortage areas (HPSA), as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
According to HHS, more than 20 percent of the U.S. population resides in an HPSA. Walgreens data shows its pharmacies administered more than one-third of its flu shots in HPSAs during the 2009-2010 flu season.
“By making immunizations and other health care services readily available within these communities and other medically underserved areas, we’re serving as a vital safety net for prevention and wellness,” said Cheryl Pegus, Walgreens chief medical officer. “Many of these residents trust and rely upon Walgreens for a broad range of health care needs and trusted information. This further demonstrates the impact pharmacists, nurse practitioners and our other clinicians are making, providing flu shots and other preventive services in all of the communities we serve nationwide.”
Similar data for the 2010-2011 flu season is not yet available.
Other Health Department Recommendations for Flu Season
HHS also recommends pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccination for people who are at high-risk for flu, including children, seniors and individuals with certain health conditions.
Most Walgreens offer pneumococcal vaccinations daily, with pharmacists at select locations trained to administer all of the more than 20 CDC-recommended immunizations. Shingles vaccine, which has been widely reported to be in short supply from some health care providers, is also available at these select locations and more than 3,000 Walgreens nationwide. Both are also available at all Take Care Clinics.
More than 30 States Implement Mandates for Pertussis (whooping cough) Vaccinations
With more than 30 states now recommending that children entering grades 7-12 receive an immunization that protects against pertussis (tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis-Tdap vaccine), or whooping cough, prior to the start of the school year, Walgreens is offering immunizations daily at all of its stores in nearly half of the impacted states, including: Ala,. Alaska, Calif., Colo., Idaho, Ind., La., Mich., Mo., Neb., Nev., N.M., Okla., Tenn., Utah and Wash.
Pertussis/Tdap immunizations are also available at all Take Care Clinics as well as select Walgreens locations in 42 states.
Residents can call the nearest Walgreens pharmacy or inquire with their local health department for further information and state-specific mandates or recommendations, as ages may vary. According to the CDC, protection from the childhood vaccine fades over time and adolescents and adults need to be revaccinated, even if they were completely vaccinated as children.
Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) is the nation’s largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2010 sales of $67 billion. The company operates 7,742 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.