Walgreen Co. plans to have H1N1 "swine flu" vaccinations available in all 50 states by the end of this month.

Walgreens, H1N1, swine flu, H1N1 vaccine, H1N1 immunizations, H1N1 vaccinations, drug store, pharmacies, Take Care clinics, Greg Wasson, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, pneumococcal vaccinations, Russell Redman

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Walgreens nears national H1N1 vaccine availability

December 16th, 2009

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. plans to have H1N1 "swine flu" vaccinations available in all 50 states by the end of this month.

The drug store chain said Wednesday that it is offering H1N1 immunizations at more than 1,500 Walgreens pharmacies and select Take Care health clinics in 27 states and the District of Columbia.

H1N1 vaccines are available in select communities or statewide in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The company recently announced rollouts of the vaccine in central Florida, the Chicago area and Louisiana earlier this month and in the Salt Lake City area last month.

Walgreens said it continues to work with government agencies in the 23 other U.S. states to receive and distribute H1N1 immunizations and to serve as a distribution partner in communities nationwide.

The company expects to have H1N1 vaccine at select locations in the following states by December 21: Alabama, California, Iowa, Kentucky, New York, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin. Details on H1N1 vaccine arrival in other states will be announced as they become available, the drug chain added.

Walgreens said that, to date, its pharmacies and Take Care clinics have administered more than 200,000 H1N1 vaccinations.

The company noted that it had been administering the H1N1 immunizations to only those within the priority groups as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but as more states, public health departments and local governments continue to lift vaccination restrictions, it can offer the vaccine to anyone who meets state age requirements.

H1N1 vaccines, which are offered in injectable and nasal spray forms, depending on availability, cost $18 and are available on a walk-in basis when an immunizing pharmacist is on staff and during scheduled flu shot clinics at stores, according to Walgreens. Also, Take Care clinics at more than 350 Walgreens stores have nurse practitioners and physician assistants who will provide vaccinations on a walk-in basis daily, depending on vaccine availability.

"The upcoming holidays, with family gatherings and many people traveling, is always a time we stress the importance of a flu shot, and particularly this year with H1N1," Walgreens president and chief executive officer Greg Wasson said in a statement. "Now that H1N1 vaccine is more widely available to anyone who wants to get the shot in many states, Walgreens can be counted on to provide convenient, affordable access to H1N1 vaccine as well as other health and wellness resources in thousands of communities nationwide."

Walgreens added that in most states its pharmacies and Take Care clinics also offer pneumococcal vaccinations for $49.99. The company said that, according to the CDC, the H1N1 virus can cause life-threatening pneumonia more commonly than seasonal flu, and that pneumococcal infections have been identified as an important complication in severe and fatal cases of 2009 H1N1 virus infection.

Earlier this month, in its regular update, the CDC announced that the level of flu activity across the nation dropped in November. Though federal officials stressed that the number of people getting infected with the H1N1 virus remains high and could rise again, November's four consecutive weeks of falling activity suggests that the intensity of the outbreak has peaked.