(RxWiki News) Walgreens, in cooperation with the United States Health and Human Services, is providing 350,000 people with flu vaccines in an attempt to make up for disparities regarding who has access and funds to get the flu shot.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched a campaign to provide wider access to flu vaccinations, beginning with a $10 million donation from Walgreens to help 350,000 people get shots in 15 markets across the country. Kathleen Sebelius, HHS Secretary, notes that while the new health care law helps with costs, there are still individuals who cannot pay at all.
Every year, between 5 and 20 percent of the population contract the influenza virus. Flu-related deaths can average around 23,600 in a typical year. More than 200,000 people end up in the hospital with problems associated with the flu.
Everyone 6 months of age or older should be vaccinated; children younger than 6 months may not be vaccinated so it is important that their caretakers be vaccinated against the flu. People at high risk of serious health complications are children, pregnant women, people with asthma, diabetes, heart and lung disease and senior citizens. Flu season usually begins in the fall and lasts until spring.
Last flu season, people were advised to get both the seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 (also known as 'swine flu') vaccine. This year, however, only the seasonal vaccine is recommended. The new 2010-2011 vaccine protects against Influenza A H3N2 virus, Influenza B virus and the 2009 H1N1 virus.
The vouchers will be distributed by local public health officials in a variety of community outreach efforts. They will be handed out on a first come, first serve basis and based on state, age and other restrictions.
They are currently only available at any Walgreens or Duane Reade pharmacy in New York, as well as Take Care Clinics.
Starting next week, they will be distributed more widely, starting in the following areas:
- Atlanta, GA
- Bronx, NY
- Chicago, IL
- Houston, TX
- Kansas City, MO
- Newark, NJ
- Oakland, CA
- Philadelphia, PA
Soon after, vaccine vouchers will be made available for the following locations:
- Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Miami-Dade County, FL
- Palm Beach, FL
- Seattle, WA
- Waco, TX
- Washington, D.C.
- Northern Hew Hampshire
- Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, NY