WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Seven million vaccinations is a lot of flu shots. And if you’ll pardon the pun, it was more than enough to put Walgreens at the sticking point of the nation’s inoculation campaign against the H1N1 virus.
(THE NEWS: Walgreens tapped for national award for its flu vaccination efforts. For the full story, click here)
Walgreens earned some well deserved honors from the National Influenza Vaccine Summit as the nation’s top corporate warrior in the long battle against H1N1 and other strains of the influenza virus sweeping the country in 2009 and early 2010. It was an obvious choice: administering more than 7 million vaccinations, Walgreens’ immunization campaign was by far the largest in the country of any kind, let alone one delivered by a corporation. It was a remarkable example of the power of community pharmacy to deliver a needed health service in thousands of neighborhood locations on a consistent basis, and it spoke volumes about pharmacy’s real value as a convenient, accessible source for professional health care and disease prevention.
Yes, the 7,500-store chain is a for-profit enterprise. And yes, Walgreens generated tens of millions of dollars in income from the relatively modest fees it charged patients to get their flu shots in one of its stores. But at a cost ranging as low as $20, the chain offered an easy, affordable option for millions of Americans who may not have taken the time or expense to get immunized at their family physician’s office.