Strong efforts by retail pharmacy to boost offerings pay off

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT Serving as yet another indicator of the important role that retail pharmacists play in the U.S. healthcare system is the data conducted by Wolters Kluwer revealing that vaccinations jumped by double-digits this flu season.

(THE NEWS: Flu shot distribution by retail pharmacy increases 36%. For the full story, click here)

As the article states, seasonal flu shots administered by pharmacists grew 36% this flu season, capturing about 10% of the total administered nationwide, according to Wolters Kluwer data.

There are several drivers fueling the growth. First, there's the fact that retail pharmacy -- and the retail health clinics they may have in-store -- offers patients a convenient solution for immunizations via an expansive network of immunizing pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. And not only do many retail pharmacies set up and promote flu clinics, but several retail-based clinic operators have heavily promoted their services.

As previously reported by Drug Store News, both MinuteClinic, which is owned by CVS Caremark, and Take Care Health Systems, which is owned by rival Walgreens, broke new ground in the second half of 2008 with major ad campaigns promoting their service offerings and convenience.

In September 2008, CVS Caremark kicked off its "Flu Shots Made Simple" campaign to bolster awareness of the company's integrated flu vaccination offering via MinuteClinic locations, pharmacist-administered shots and scheduled flu shot clinics within select stores.

Take Care Health Systems then announced in mid-October of that year the launch of a new multimedia brand and advertising program dubbed "Life Diagnosis." Similar to MinuteClinic's campaign, the Take Care campaign had a specific focus on cough-cold-flu and coincided with the official start of cold and flu season, and all Take Care clinics beginning to offer flu vaccines.

Clearly, these efforts have helped shore up foot traffic at community pharmacy and retail-based health clinics.

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