National drug chains Rite Aid Corp., CVS Caremark Corp. and Walgreen Co. are reminding Americans to get their annual flu shot as part of National Influenza Vaccination Week.

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Drug chains join in on CDC flu shot drive

December 5th, 2011

NEW YORK – National drug chains Rite Aid Corp., CVS Caremark Corp. and Walgreen Co. are reminding Americans to get their annual flu shot as part of National Influenza Vaccination Week.

Established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the national observance aims to highlight the need for people to get regular flu vaccinations — which the CDC recommends for everyone age 6 months and older — and to encourage greater use of the flu vaccine beyond the holiday season into the new year.

Launched on Sunday, National Influenza Vaccination Week for the 2011-12 flu season runs through Dec. 10.

Rite Aid said Monday that in support of the CDC effort, it is offering injectable flu shots at all of its 4,700 pharmacies for $19.99 through Dec. 17. Members of Rite Aid's wellness+ customer loyalty program earn 25 points when they get a flu shot.

While many Americans tend to look at the fall as the time to get a flu immunization, the CDC noted that flu season can start as early as  October and continue to mid-May, with most cases arising between December and April.

"Despite the popular myth, it's not too late to get a flu shot as flu activity usually peaks during the winter months," Rite Aid executive vice president of pharmacy Robert Thompson said in a statement. "There's no better time than National Influenza Vaccination Week to get a flu shot. We encourage anyone who hasn't done so already to visit their local Rite Aid for their flu shot this week to protect themselves and their family this flu season."

CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic, meanwhile, are calling on families to "vaccinate before they celebrate" the holidays and get their annual flu shot before the flu season hits its peak.

The company said Monday that with flu vaccinations available on a walk-in basis at all 7,300 CVS/pharmacy and nearly 600 MinuteClinic locations daily, it's easier than ever to get a flu shot. Customers also can buy a CVS gift card for a family member or friend that can be applied against the cost of a flu shot at CVS/pharmacy.

"As we head into the busy holiday season, it is important to remind people that it is not too late to receive their annual flu vaccination if they haven't already done so," stated CVS/pharmacy vice president Papatya Tankut.

A flu shot at CVS/pharmacy or MinuteClinic costs $29.99, and customers (excluding those in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York) will receive a $5 CVS gift card if their flu shot isn't covered by insurance, the drug chain said.

"The CDC reports that nearly one in five adults received their flu shot in a retail setting last year, so we are doing all we can to inform and vaccinate as many people as possible," added Tankut. "CVS pharmacists and MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants have been helping people on their path to better health by providing flu vaccinations to their patients since August and will continue to do so through the holidays and into early next year."

Walgreens teamed up with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to spotlight the importance of flu vaccinations. On Friday, the governor got his flu shot at a Walgreens store on North State Street in Chicago.

"With the third-largest city in the U.S., one of the world’s busiest airports, mass transportation and more than 12 million residents across the state, Illinois takes health care and illness prevention seriously," Quinn said in a statement. "Getting a flu shot is a simple and effective way to help keep our state healthy throughout the flu season."

Flu vaccines are available every day without an appointment at Walgreens' nearly 7,800 drug stores and more than 700 Take Care Clinics.

Walgreens said the latest reports from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC show there is now sporadic flu activity in Illinois. But in line with the message of National Influenza Vaccination Week, the drug chain pointed out that flu season peaks in January and February 70% of the time, according to CDC records.

"For those who haven't gotten a flu shot yet, it's prime time for prevention with changes in the weather, the holiday travel season and many other ways in which germs and viruses spread this time of year," stated Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions at Walgreens. "We're proud to have Gov. Quinn reinforce the need for protection and prevention with his flu shot and helping to recognize the access we provide to immunizations through our network of pharmacists and more than 600 points of care across Illinois."