Walgreens Offering $10 Million in Free Flu Shots

Nov 30, 2011 12:54pm

Walgreens is offering $10 million worth of flu shot vouchers to uninsured Americans who can’t afford the vaccine.

For the second year in a row, the pharmacy has partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to make the flu shot more available to the those who might not otherwise be able to receive it.

“With the help and support of HHS, we’ve been able to provide free access to flu vaccine to people in need and improve immunization rates in underserved communities,” Kermit Crawford, Walgreens’ president of pharmacy services, said in a statement. “We’re making an impact and helping to keep people healthy throughout the flu season.”

 The move also gets 300,000 new customers into the 7,700 participating  pharmacies.

The flu shot guards against three strains of seasonal influenza, reducing the risk of infection by 59 percent.

“While we hope and wait for a perfect vaccine, we’ve got a good one that’s capable of preventing influenza and its complication,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “It can’t prevent every instance, but it can prevent many. And that’s a good thing.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone older than 6  months old get a flu shot every year. But less than half of eligible American’s got vaccinated last year.

“Last season, more than 40 percent of Americans got their flu shots, but there are still millions of people who are without adequate insurance and unable to afford one,” HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement about the Walgreen’s initiative. “This generous donation is helping many people who otherwise might not be protected from influenza.”

The flu can lead to life-threatening complications like pneumonia. Among the 115 children who died of flu-related causes last year, less than a quarter of them had received the flu vaccine, according to the CDC.

The vouchers can be exchanged for one free flu shot at any Walgreens pharmacy, Duane Reade Pharmacy in New York, or Take Care Clinic.

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