Gearing up for what could be a busy flu season, Supervalu Inc. has dramatically expanded its pool of pharmacists who can give customers immunizations.

Supervalu, Supervalu Pharmacies, flu shots, immunizations, seasonal flu, Chris Dimos, Duncan Mac Naughton, Russell Redman, CVS, Walgreen, Rite Aid, Bartell Drugs, Kroger, Safeway

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Supervalu trains more pharmacists for flu shots

September 1st, 2009
The food/drug retailer aims to accommodate more walk-in customers seeking flu vaccines.

FRANKLIN PARK, Ill. – Gearing up for what could be a busy flu season, Supervalu Inc. has dramatically expanded its pool of pharmacists who can give customers immunizations.

Supervalu Pharmacies, the food/drug store operator's pharmacy arm, said Tuesday that an additional 40% of its pharmacists have been trained to administer seasonal flu shots in-store. The move is designed to accommodate more walk-in customers without appointments, according to the company.

As in previous flu seasons, certified Supervalu pharmacists will also be available to administer vaccines by appointment during regular pharmacy hours. The seasonal flu shots will cost $24.99, and Medicare Part B and many health insurance plans are accepted.

Supervalu said it also will provide free literature that explains the differences between seasonal flu and H1N1 "swine flu" and gives customers tips on how to stay healthy during the cold and flu season.

"With growing concerns around H1N1 and the annual seasonal flu virus, we at Supervalu Pharmacies want our customers to know they have the ability to reduce the spread of influenza, and we're here to help," Chris Dimos, president of Franklin Park-based Supervalu Pharmacies, said in a statement. "In many cases, it's a lack of knowledge that stops people from getting preventative care, like flu shots, that can help them avoid serious complications down the line."

Supervalu joins a list of supermarket and drug store chains that recently unveiled extensive flu shot programs, a response to rising public concern about the upcoming flu season, especially fears about the spread of swine flu.

On Monday, CVS Caremark Corp., Walgreen Co. and Rite Aid Corp. announced major flu shot initiatives for their pharmacies and/or in-store clinics. Seattle-based Bartell Drugs last week launched flu vaccination programs for all of its stores and local businesses. And this week, Kroger Co. is slated to begin providing flu shots through its nearly 2,000 in-store pharmacies. Earlier this month, Safeway Inc. started offering flu shots at its approximately 1,300 food/drug stores.

Minneapolis-based Supervalu, with annual pharmacy sales of $3 billion, operates about 900 food/drug combination stores under a dozen banners: Acme Sav-on Pharmacy, Albertsons Osco Pharmacy, Albertsons Sav-on Pharmacy, bigg's Pharmacy, Cub Pharmacy, Farm Fresh Pharmacy, Jewel-Osco Pharmacy, Shaw's Osco Pharmacy, Shop 'n Save Pharmacy, Shop 'n Save Osco Pharmacy and Shoppers Pharmacy and Star Market Osco Pharmacy.

The company recently formed a new health and wellness division to create a "total health and wellness experience" for customers. The unit is headed by Duncan Mac Naughton, executive vice president of merchandising and marketing.