Rite Aid Corp. and Safeway Inc. have procured hundreds of thousands of additional flu vaccinations as many states continue to report significant flu activity.

Rite Aid, flu vaccine, Safeway, flu shots, flu vaccinations, seasonal flu, flu outbreak, flu activity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, Robert Thompson, Rite Aid pharmacists, Darren Singer, Safeway pharmacy, flu immunizations

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Rite Aid, Safeway add to flu vaccine supply

January 17th, 2013

NEW YORK – Rite Aid Corp. and Safeway Inc. have procured hundreds of thousands of additional flu vaccinations as many states continue to report significant flu activity.

Rite Aid said Thursday it has obtained over 400,000 more seasonal flu shots, which started arriving in stores earlier this week. The flu immunizations are being delivered to areas according to actual or expected flu outbreak activity, the company noted.

"This year's flu season got off to an early and strong start, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], is more severe than in recent years," Rite Aid executive vice president of pharmacy Robert Thompson said in a statement.

"Rite Aid pharmacists play an important role in the fight against the flu every year, and that's especially true in tough seasons like this one," Thompson added. "We are committed to helping our customers and communities fight the flu, which is why we're bringing in additional flu shots this week and encouraging anyone who hasn't received a flu shot yet to do so as soon as possible so they can be protected against this year’s flu."

The drug chain said that to date, Rite Aid pharmacists have administered more than 2 million flu shots.

On Wednesday, Safeway said it has shipped another 200,000 doses of flu vaccine to its U.S. supermarkets with pharmacies.

"This additional quantity of flu vaccine will allow us to meet the needs of our customers to help them remain healthy this season," stated Darren Singer, senior vice president of pharmacy at Safeway, which has about 1,400 pharmacies in its more than 1,600 U.S. and Canadian stores. "Our pharmacists administer the vaccine on a walk-in basis. The process is simple, convenient and affordable. We want all of our customers to have this protection."

Safeway reported that according to the CDC, 47 states are seeing widespread flu activity, with infection numbers making this the worst flu season in a decade.

Rite Aid and Safeway offer flu shots daily without an appointment. Both retail pharmacy operators also provide incentives for customers to get vaccinated.

Members of Rite Aid’s free wellness+ loyalty program, for example, earn 25 points for flu shots and other immunizations as well as prescriptions, compared with one point for each dollar spent on nonprescription items. The chain also offers customers free coupon books worth $100 in savings with every flu shot, while supplies last. And Safeway said it's giving each customer who get a flu vaccine at a Safeway pharmacy a coupon for 10% off their next grocery purchase.

Rite Aid added that its pharmacists also are available to counsel customers on over-the-counter medicines such as pain relievers, decongestants and cough medicine that can help them manage flu symptoms. The chain said it also has stocked store shelves with extra supplies of hand sanitizer and soaps, masks, gloves, tissues and household disinfectants to help consumers prevent the spread of the flu.