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CVS announces availability of flu shots at all pharmacy, retail clinic locations

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic have announced the "You vs. Flu" campaign, which is supported by more than 20,000 immunizing healthcare professionals who will vaccinate patients every day, no appointment needed, at all CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations nationwide.

The flu shots are being provided by CVS pharmacists and MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants every day, including evenings and weekends, with no appointment necessary.

CVS/pharmacy has more than 7,200 locations and MinuteClinic has nearly 600 locations inside select CVS/pharmacy stores.

The CDC reports that last flu season nearly 1-in-5 adults received a flu shot in a retail setting. This year, the pharmacy retailer is looking to make its pharmacies and retail-based health clinics even more convenient and accessible. In addition to 7,800 combined retail locations, CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic are providing direct medical billing for many national and regional health plans that will cover all or part of the cost of a flu shot.

The price $29.99 and many health plans are accepted, including Medicare Part B and Tricare, which may cover the full cost of a flu shot. Customers will receive a $5 CVS gift card if any part of their cost of a flu shot is not covered by insurance, the company stated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu shot as soon as vaccine is available, including those who were vaccinated last flu season.

CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic also are offering the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine this season, which is available at all locations for people ages 65 years and older. This higher dose vaccine is designed to provide better protection from influenza to this age group, which has a greater risk for developing a severe illness from the flu.

Each year, influenza causes between 3,600 to 49,000 deaths in the United States, and more than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized for flu-related complications annually. This season’s vaccine is designed to protect against three influenza viruses, including an influenza B virus and two influenza A viruses, H1N1 and H3N2.

"A flu shot can reduce the chance of becoming infected by influenza by up to 70%. Because it takes about two weeks to achieve full immunization after being vaccinated, a flu shot is recommended as soon as vaccine is available," stated Paulette Thabault, chief nurse practitioner officer for MinuteClinic. "Even if you received a flu shot last year, immunity from influenza declines over time, so a flu shot is still necessary to provide you with the best protection against catching the flu."

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AstraZeneca’s Brilinta now available

BY Alaric DeArment

WILMINGTON, Del. — A new drug made by AstraZeneca is available in pharmacies following its regulatory approval in July, the company said Monday.

AstraZeneca announced the availability of the anti-platelet drug Brilinta (ticagrelor) for reducing the rate of thrombotic cardiovascular events in patients with acute coronary syndrome.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Brilinta on July 20. AstraZeneca said the drug has been shown to reduce the rates of cardiovascular death, heart attacks and stroke, compared with other drugs on the market.

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Solantic’s expansion plans further illustrate growing need for alternative sites of care

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The other side of the retail clinic phenomenon is urgent care, which also is growing as the need for alternative sites of care becomes more apparent, and providers look to fill the gaps in health care. This is why it is important to note the news of Solantic’s expansion plans.

(THE NEWS: Solantic announces statewide hiring. For the full story, click here)

Florida-based urgent care provider Solantic is planning to offer more than 50 new jobs throughout the state. Since its inception in 2002, Solantic has expanded from four northeast Florida locations to more than 30 centers located throughout the state.

The news follows June’s sale of the privately owned medical care centers to private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe. Soon after the sale, the New York-based firm formed a new management team, appointing Michael Klein president and CEO, and naming Karen Bowling, Solantic co-founder and former CEO, as senior strategic adviser.

Prior to his role at Solantic, Klein, a management executive with achievements in sales, operations and organizational development, was president and CEO of Renal Advantage, a 154-center dialysis company operating in 19 states.

With solid financial backing in place, Klein stated in June that the company’s intentions would be to continue to grow in its existing markets, as well as open new markets. Clearly, that plan has been set in motion.

With about 30 million uninsured gaining healthcare coverage under healthcare reform and the need for alternative sites of care on the rise, it is clear that growth in the number of clinics — both urgent care and retail-based facilities — is on the horizon.

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