Back-to-school season is here, and flu season is nearing — which nowadays means that chain drug retailers are well under way with their annual flu shot programs.


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Retail News Breaks Archives

Flu shot programs in full swing at drug chains

August 31st, 2011

NEW YORK – Back-to-school season is here, and flu season is nearing — which nowadays means that chain drug retailers are well under way with their annual flu shot programs.

In the past couple of years, retail pharmacies have significantly raised their profile as a convenient and affordable place to go for an annual flu vaccination. And this year more drug chains have made it easier to get a flu immunization by providing shots on a walk-in basis and having more of their pharmacists certified to administer flu vaccines. Others also are providing shots to local businesses.

Miami-area chain Navarro Discount Pharmacy has begun offering seasonal flu shots for individuals, families and employer groups. Flu vaccinations are available at all of Navarro's 29 stores during regular pharmacy hours on a walk-in basis or by appointment for $25, and the chain said it will match competitors' prices for a flu shot.

Customers getting a flu immunization receive $100 in coupon savings as well as Navarro's "Flu Guarantee," which reimburses up to the out-of-pocket expense for the cost of the flu shot, with a Navarro pharmacy credit toward the purchase of the antiviral prescription medication (Tamiflu or Relenza).

"The seasonal flu vaccine, which protects against the changed H3N2 seasonal flu, is now available at each of our locations, no appointment needed," Albert Garcia, executive vice president of pharmacy at Navarro, said in a statement. "Our certified pharmacists have undergone extensive training and are extremely knowledgeable about viruses common today, their symptoms and the flu vaccine." The chain said it has more than 80 trained clinical staff, comprised of Florida registered pharmacists.

Navarro is offering customers a "Flu Shot Guarantee" that reimburses up to the out-of-pocket expense for the cost of the flu shot.

Navarro noted that most insurance providers cover the cost of flu shots for employees. "Offering employees the opportunity of getting their flu shot at the workplace increases productivity and adds to the company’s bottom line in the form of reduced sick leave," Garcia commented.

In the Seattle region, Bartell Drugs this week kicked off its seasonal flu shot program, which includes a full schedule of in-store vaccinations for individuals as well as a flu clinic program serving area businesses.

Bartell said Tuesday that it's now offering in-store flu shots by appointment or a walk-in basis at many locations. And starting in September, the chain will also hold more than 100 in-store flu shot clinics. All in-store flu vaccine recipients get a Bartell coupon book with over $140 in storewide savings.

Fluzone High-Dose, an influenza vaccine designed specifically for people age 65 and older, is also being offered at Bartell. Fluzone High-Dose vaccines contain four times the amount of antigen contained in regular flu shots, the pharmacy chain noted.

For local businesses with 25 or more employees, Bartell is launching its corporate seasonal flu vaccination program that the chain said provides "in the workplace" flu
shot clinics.

Now in its fifth year, the program gives businesses and their workers a convenient way to decrease sick time and lost productivity due to illness, according to Bartell. Employees vaccinated against influenza help protect their families and co-workers from contracting
the virus, some of whom may be at higher risk from complications, the drug chain pointed out. Bartell pharmacists will administer flu shots at businesses, with discounts available for groups of more than 50 employees.

This year Rite Aid Corp. is bringing more than 11,500 certified immunizing pharmacists to the table to administer flu shots at its 4,700 pharmacies nationwide.

Priced at $27.99 each, the seasonal flu vaccines are available during pharmacy hours, and customers who receive a flu shot at Rite Aid get a free coupon booklet that offers over $100 in savings. The booklet includes savings on health and wellness, beauty and household items plus other products. Members of Rite Aid's wellness+ loyalty program can earn 25 points when they get their flu shot.

"As one of the most accessible health care providers, Rite Aid pharmacists play a vital role in the health and well-being of their patients and communities every day, and especially during flu season," stated Robert Thompson, executive vice president of pharmacy at Rite Aid. "With every Rite Aid pharmacist now able to administer flu shots, it's easier than ever to protect yourself and your loved ones this flu season."

National drug chains Walgreens and CVS/pharmacy are under way with their flu immunization efforts as well, spotlighting accessibility to flu vaccinations through their drug stores (7,700 Walgreens locations and 7,200 CVS stores) and their retail health clinics (about 350 Walgreens Take Care Clinics and nearly 600 CVS MinuteClinics) as well as walk-in availability of flu shots.

Also launching flu shot programs earlier this month were supermarket operators Supervalu Inc. and Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., which is offering discounted immunizations to reward card members, as well as discount store chain Target Corp., which also is providing shots via its Target Clinics. 

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