Walgreens (NYSE:WAG) (NASDAQ:WAG) presented new data last week at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2012 National Immunization Conference, providing evidence of the company’s leadership in expanding access to immunizations and support of disease prevention in the United States. The studies demonstrate the impact of three Walgreens initiatives aimed at increasing immunization rates: off-clinic hour vaccine administration, a pharmacist-led meningitis vaccination program and expansion of access to immunization services in underserved areas.
The three studies examining these initiatives were:
Vaccinations administered during off-clinic hours at a national community pharmacy: Implications for Increasing Patient Access and Convenience: This study examined patient populations receiving vaccinations during off-clinic hours (times when traditional physician offices and clinics are closed) between August 2010 and July 2011 across various demographics. One-fourth (25.4 percent) of seniors (patients over 64 years of age) visited Walgreens during off-clinic hours for vaccinations and more than a third (37.1 percent) of working age individuals (18-64 years old) visited Walgreens during off-clinic hours for vaccinations.
The Impact of a Pharmacist-Led Meningitis Vaccination Program for the College-Aged Population in Texas. This study evaluated the impact of a pharmacist-led meningitis vaccination program implemented to support a Texas state mandate which required all entering college students younger than 30 years of age to be immunized for meningitis before the January 2012 semester. The Walgreens program offered meningitis vaccine services in more than 700 locations throughout Texas to help students comply with the mandate. The number of vaccinations provided by Walgreens pharmacists increased dramatically year-over-year from 41 in January 2011 (pre-mandate) to 11,229 in January 2012 (post-mandate), and the proportion of meningitis vaccinations provided in medically underserved areas increased by 27.4 percent from January 2011 to January 2012. This demonstrates that the program provided vaccination services where most needed and that community pharmacies can support state government initiatives and improve public health.
Food oases as health destinations: The impact of food oasis pharmacies on influenza vaccination rates in Chicago underserved areas and food deserts. This study investigated the rate of influenza vaccinations administered to patients during the 2010-2011 flu season visiting Walgreens pharmacies in urban neighborhoods of Chicago located in or adjacent to food deserts (areas without sufficient access to healthy food) that were converted to food oasis pharmacies (offering a larger assortment of healthy meal components including fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and prepared items) compared to a matched sample of patients visiting traditional Walgreens pharmacies. The study found that in pharmacies that converted to food oases, the rate of influenza vaccinations increased by 75 percent (from 15.9 to 28.0 per 1,000 pharmacy patients). This rate was significantly higher than the 50 percent increase (15.5 to 23.2 per 1,000 pharmacy patients) observed in traditional pharmacies. The study implies that Walgreens introduction of food oasis pharmacies, as healthy destinations near food deserts, have further contributed to the observed increase in the rate of influenza vaccinations.
“Walgreens continues to be committed to improving access to immunizations and ultimately preventing serious illness and disability,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions. “Our network of more than 26,000 certified immunizing pharmacists provides us the ability to offer a wide range of CDC-recommended vaccinations when it’s most convenient for patients and in areas where access is a significant challenge. We believe our programs are vital to the health and wellness of the communities we operate in, and we are proud to be able to deliver this service.”
The 2012 National Immunization Conference took place online for the first time ever this year. During the three-day conference (March 26-28) participants, including scientists, policy experts and public health officials learned about innovative strategies for developing programs, policy and research to promote immunization coverage.