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DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens is looking to make getting a flu shot as easy as walking into any Walgreens, Duane Reade and Take Care Clinic by offering flu shots without an appointment.
“Customers value the convenient access we provide, as well as the clinical experience and expertise of Walgreens pharmacists and Take Care Clinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants, all of whom continue to play an important and expanding role in health care delivery,” stated Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. “By providing flu shots and other immunizations that can protect against vaccine-preventable diseases, we’ve demonstrated the many ways we can help improve immunization rates in the communities we serve, while helping our customers get, stay and live well.”
While flu shots are available on a walk-in basis, appointments are also available and may be scheduled online for any Walgreens or Take Care Clinic by visiting Walgreens.com or Takecarehealth.com. Subject to availability, state, age and health condition-related restrictions apply.
Flu shots are covered under Medicare Part B, as well as many insurance plans. All Walgreens points of care also offer Fluzone HD, a high-dose influenza vaccine for those older than 65 years of age, and all pharmacies offer Fluzone Intradermal, a shot administered with a smaller needle than the regular flu shot that is injected into the skin instead of the muscle.
New this season, Walgreens and Take Care Clinics also are offering a free comprehensive immunization assessment with every flu shot. The assessment can help patients determine which other immunizations they may need based upon current recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A recent Walgreens study found that more than 40% of U.S. adults surveyed were unaware of the latest government-recommended vaccinations for their age and health condition. More than half of those surveyed, 53%, also said they aren’t diligent about regular checkups with their primary care physician.
New vaccine for this flu season
Each year, seasonal flu vaccine is produced to protect against the three viruses or flu strains that research indicates will be most prevalent. There is a new vaccine for this season, as the 2012-2013 vaccine includes H1N1, as well as H3N2 and a B virus, which are different from those recommended for the Northern Hemisphere last season.
The CDC recommends a flu shot for everyone older than six months of age and recommends that people get immunized as soon as vaccine becomes available. Age restrictions for immunizations vary by state at Walgreens pharmacies, while Take Care Clinics at select Walgreens can provide immunizations for patients ages 2 years and older.
Nearly one-third of immunizations administered during off-hours, Walgreens data show
As community pharmacy and retail clinics have played an integral role in providing more convenient access to flu shots and other immunizations in recent years, Walgreens data showed that nearly one-third (32%) of the more than 6.3 million people who received flu shots, as well as those for pneumonia, shingles and meningitis, had them administered during off-hours — evening, night, holiday or weekend at a Walgreens pharmacy or Take Care Clinic.
A majority of off-hours immunizations were administered on weekends (56%), while 35% came during evening hours. The remaining 9% were administered on holidays.
“An expansive network of more than 27,000 licensed or certified immunizers has enabled Walgreens and Take Care Clinics to cater to the busy schedules of today’s consumers, by offering flu shots and other health care services when it’s most convenient for them,” Crawford said. “At the same time, Walgreens and Take Care are bridging a critical gap in health care today by offering more preventive services, such as health testing. And both companies are working closely with hospitals, health systems and local, state and federal health organizations on collaborative programs that can improve patient care while lowering overall costs.”