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Walgreens donates flu shots to at-risk people in Laos, Nicaragua
June 17th, 2013
DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. has donated 35,000 seasonal flu vaccine doses to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to help at-risk populations in Laos and Nicaragua.
Walgreens said Monday that the collaborative effort, done in tandem with PAHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will help the countries develop or expand their immunizations programs.
The primary focus will be target populations seen as high risk for flu complications, including pregnant women. In addition, the effort will help bring guidance to a third country, Uganda, in establishing a future influenza vaccination program.
"Flu shots and adult immunizations are a great example of how we're transforming the role of community pharmacy, and through this donation we hope to help improve immunization rates among more populations in need in other parts of the world," Kermit Crawford, Walgreens' president of pharmacy, health and wellness, said in a statement. "Flu arrived earlier and was more severe in the U.S. this past season. By collaborating with government and health officials, we've had an opportunity to create greater access to vaccine in underserved communities across America, and this effort furthers our mission to help more people get, stay and live well."
Walgreens noted that the donation furthers its effort to provide vaccines to people in need, a year after the drug chain worked with the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) to donate flu vaccine to Laos. Last year in Laos, 90% of the donated flu vaccine was administered over a two-week period, and in follow-up surveys most people said they would get vaccinated again.
"Last year's success was an example of what public-private partnerships can accomplish. This year, this partnership has been able to expand further with new donors and new partner countries," stated Dr. Joseph Bresee, chief of the epidemiology and prevention branch in CDC’s influenza Division. "Because of this, people at risk for severe influenza will be protected for the first time."
The Lao Ministry of Health and Nicaragua Ministry of Health, after this year's program, will work with CDC to gauge the impact of the vaccination programs, Walgreens said. Understanding the benefits of influenza vaccination will help build commitments for sustainable vaccine programs in the partner countries, the drug chain added.
This flu season, Walgreens donated $10 million of flu vaccine vouchers to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to spur immunization rates among underserved populations in the United States. HHS also helped Walgreens in the distribution of flu vaccine vouchers in select markets over the last three years, which provided free flu shots for the uninsured and underinsured.