With consumers more willing to get a flu shot outside a doctor's office setting, CVS Caremark Corp. aims to give them even more reason to do so.

CVS Caremark, CVS/pharmacy, MinuteClinic, flut shot, flu vaccination, influenza vaccine, flu immunizations, flu vaccine, Fluzone High-Dose, Papatya Tankut, pharmacy professional services, drug store, retail clinic, retail pharmacies

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CVS, MinuteClinic ramp up flu vaccine program

July 29th, 2011

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – With consumers more willing to get a flu shot outside a doctor's office setting, CVS Caremark Corp. aims to give them even more reason to do so.

The company said Friday that all of its CVS/pharmacy drug store and MinuteClinic retail clinics — totaling some 7,800 locations — will provide flu vaccinations every day with no appointment necessary, including evenings and weekends, once the influenza vaccine becomes available in August.

In addition, CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic plan to make flu immunizations more accessible this year by providing direct medical billing to many national and regional health plans that will cover all or part of the cost of a flu shot, according to CVS Caremark.

And besides the seasonal flu vaccine, CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic will offer Fluzone High-Dose this season, which will be available for people age 65 and older. The higher-dose vaccine is designed to provide stronger protection from flu to this age group, which has a greater risk of developing a severe illness from influenza. Most Medicare beneficiaries, including those covered by Medicare Part B, can get either version of the flu vaccine for no out-of-pocket cost, the company said.

Last flu season, almost one in five adults chose to get a flu shot in a retail setting, CVS Caremark noted. The company reported that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), retail pharmacies have become a popular destination for flu vaccines, accounting for more than 18% of adults who were vaccinated last season.

"By providing 7,800 retail locations across the United States that can offer vaccinations with no appointment necessary, CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic will make getting a flu shot easier than ever this season," Papatya Tankut, vice president of pharmacy professional services for CVS/pharmacy, said in a statement. "While the composition of this year's vaccine has not changed from the previous season, immunity from influenza declines over time. Receiving an annual flu shot provides you with the best protection against catching the flu."

The CDC is recommending that everyone age 6 months and older get a flu shot as soon as the vaccine is available, including those who were immunizaed last season. CVS Caremark said CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic will announce the full details of their 2011 flu vaccination program within the next few weeks.