HHS, Walgreens Partner to Give Free Flu Shots

Walgreens partners with the HHS to offer protection against the flu.

ByABC News
December 17, 2010, 5:16 PM

Dec. 18, 2010— -- People living in 15 underserved U.S. communities will be able to get flu shots for free thanks to a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and Walgreens to provide around 350,000 doses of influenza vaccine.

The demonstration project, started with a $10 million donation from Walgreens, will launch next week by distributing vouchers in eight U.S. markets -- Atlanta, Bronx, N.Y., Chicago, Houston, Kansas City, Mo., Newark, N.J., Oakland, Calif., and Philadelphia, Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy services at Walgreens, announced on a conference call with reporters.

Read this story on www.medpagetoday.com.

After that, the joint effort will be broadened to include seven more areas -- Fort Lauderdale, Miami-Dade County, and Palm Beach in Florida, Seattle, Waco, Tex., the District of Columbia, and various parts of New Hampshire.

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

The project is specifically aimed at increasing flu vaccination rates in black and Hispanic communities, which traditionally have worse coverage than white communities.

About one-third of Americans have been vaccinated against influenza this season, and many of those who have not been immunized come from minority communities, according to HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Blacks and Hispanics are particularly at risk for flu-related complications because of elevated rates of diabetes and heart disease in those populations. The joint effort by HHS and Walgreens, the nation's largest drugstore chain, is aimed at reducing racial disparities in flu vaccine coverage.

Vouchers will be distributed through a variety of community outreach efforts by local public health officials and their community partners in the 15 targeted cities in conjunction with HHS Regional Health Administrators, according to a Walgreens press release.

The joint effort to increase flu vaccine coverage will encompass patient and community education, mail and phone reminders, outreach to businesses, schools, and senior and family service centers, as well as radio public service announcements.