Walgreen Co. presented new data at a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) event that highlights its efforts to expand access to immunizations and support disease prevention.

Walgreens, immunization, disease prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, 2012 National Immunization Conference, Kermit Crawford, vaccinations, flu vaccinations, off-clinic hours, Meningitis Vaccination, Texas, meningitis vaccine, vaccine services, food oasis, food deserts, Chicago

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Walgreens spotlights immunization, disease prevention efforts

April 3rd, 2012

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. presented new data at a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) event that highlights its efforts to expand access to immunizations and support disease prevention.

Walgreens said Tuesday that at the CDC's 2012 National Immunization Conference, held last week, it showcased studies that show the impact of three of the drug chain's initiatives to boost immunization rates: off-clinic hour vaccine administration, a pharmacist-led meningitis vaccination program and expansion of access to immunization services in underserved areas.

The chain's "Implications for Increasing Patient Access and Convenience" study examined patient populations receiving vaccinations during off-clinic hours — times when traditional doctor's offices and clinics are closed — between August 2010 and July 2011 across various demographics. A quarter (25.4%) of seniors visited Walgreens during off-clinic hours for vaccinations, and more than a third (37.1%) of working age people (18 to 64 years old) visited Walgreens during off-clinic hours for vaccinations.

Another study, "Impact of a Pharmacist-Led Meningitis Vaccination Program for the College-Aged Population in Texas," assessed the impact of a pharmacist-led meningitis vaccination program implemented to support a Texas state mandate requiring all entering college students younger than 30 years of age to be immunized for meningitis before the January 2012 semester. The Walgreens program offered meningitis vaccine services in over 700 locations across Texas to help students comply with the mandate.

Walgreens said the number of vaccinations provided by its pharmacists in the program jumped from 41 in January 2011 (pre-mandate) to 11,229 in January 2012 (post-mandate), and the proportion of meningitis vaccinations provided in medically underserved areas increased by 27.4% from January 2011 to January 2012. According to the chain, the results show that the Texas program provided vaccination services where most needed and that community pharmacies can support state government initiatives and improve public health.

The third study evaluated the impact of Walgreens' "food oasis" stores on flu vaccination rates in underserved areas in Chicago identified as "food deserts," i.e. having a dearth of grocery stores. The food oasis stores offer a larger assortment of healthy meal components, including fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and prepared items, than typical Walgreens stores.

Examining the rate of influenza vaccinations administered to patients during the 2010-2011 flu season in both food oasis and traditional Walgreens stores, the study found that in food oasis stores the rate of flu vaccinations surged by 75% (from 15.9 to 28.0 per 1,000 pharmacy patients), compared with a 50% increase (15.5 to 23.2 per 1,000 pharmacy patients) in the traditional pharmacies.

"Walgreens continues to be committed to improving access to immunizations and ultimately preventing serious illness and disability," Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions at Walgreens, said in a statement. "Our network of more than 26,000 certified immunizing pharmacists provides us the ability to offer a wide range of CDC-recommended vaccinations when it's most convenient for patients and in areas where access is a significant challenge. We believe our programs are vital to the health and wellness of the communities we operate in, and we are proud to be able to deliver this service."