Walgreen, U.S. to provide $10M in free flu shots

By Bruce Japsen
Posted Dec. 17, 2010 at 4:31 p.m.

In a move to increase access to preventive treatment among those for whom health care is a challenge, the Obama administration and Walgreens announced on Friday a partnership to provide vouchers for free influenza shots to uninsured Americans and others with inadequate benefits.

The Deerfield-based drugstore giant will provide more than $10 million worth of vouchers while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will help distribute the shots to up to 350,000 people in 15 major U.S. markets including Chicago through its network of regional health administrators that work with public health agencies.

Though the health overhaul law began eliminating hurdles to preventive medical-care services such as flu shots at the end of September, these requirements are largely for people who have medical benefits. Other retailers are also offering flu shots that are no cost to consumers as long as the retailer has a contract to bill their insurance company or employer. Co-payments and deductibles for a host of preventive services such as flu shots will disappear Jan. 1 for most workers under the Affordable Care Act.

“Thanks to the new health care law, many people can get their flu vaccination without paying a co-pay or deductible, but there are still more Americans who cannot afford to get vaccinated for the flu,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “We are also troubled by recent data showing disparities among people when it comes to flu vaccination. This donation will help us remove barriers that have prevented some from getting vaccinated.”

Starting next week, Walgreens said shots will be available at publich health agencies in Chicago, Atlanta; Bronx, N.Y.; Houston; Kansas City, Mo.; Newark, N.J.; Oakland, Calif. The vouchers will “soon be available” in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; the Miami-Dade County area; Palm Beach, Fla.; Seattle; Waco, Texas; Washington, D.C., and regions in New Hampshire.

Vouchers are good for one flu shot at any Walgreen’s pharmacy, Duane Reade pharmacy in New York or Take Care Clinic. For futher information, visit www.flu.gov.

There are more than 45 million uninsured Americans by most estimates and public health officials worry, particularly in a poor economy, they will not be able to get a flu shot. At retail prices, Walgreens charges $29.99.

“The flu season traditionally peaks in January and February 70 percent of the time, so this is an important time for prevention,” Walgreens president of pharmacy services, Kermit Crawford, said.


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  1. george Dec. 17, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    looks like walgreens over ordered.

  2. margie Dec. 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    George, you are absolutely right!! “We couldn’t sell em so we’re giving em away!”

  3. Jeeper Dec. 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    CVS missed out on this “opportunity”…

  4. juanreeyes Dec. 17, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    The first new rule says you HAVE to have insurance. Both my husband and I have pre-existing conditions, and although the new bill says we can’t be denied coverage because of it. So far, the cheapest health insurance we’ve been able to find is called “Wise Health Insurance” search for it online if you are pre-existing conditions.