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Individuals hoping to prevent the flu this season should roll up their sleeves and get a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expect 100 million influenza vaccines to be available for the 2006-2007 flu season. This year's record number is a significant improvement over the past 2 years, which included temporary shortages and flu vaccine distribution problems.
Chain pharmacies are doing their part with their annual flu programs.
Rite Aid held its main chain-wide flu shot program October 12 to 14 at 1285 clinics across the country.
The Costco flu program will run until about November 18 at >1600 Costco warehouses across the United States. In this ninth year that Costco has offered the vaccine, each warehouse will have from 4 to 8 clinic dates. Dates and times for the shots can be found by contacting Costco warehouses. Each flu shot costs $18, and no insurance is accepted with the exception of Medicare Part B (no copay). Costco will use a priority system for administering the vaccine.
CVS, which has been offering flu clinics for >10 years, will conduct its program through mid-November at >4000 stores. The flu shots will range from $23 to $25, depending on the market. A CVS spokesperson said that Medicare Part B typically covers the cost of the flu shot if the patient has not assigned his or her Medicare benefits to a health maintenance organization. While no appointment is necessary, "first-come, first served" is the usual process. The chain pharmacy noted that it will prioritize if necessary using CDC guidelines. Patients can find out more information by visiting www.cvs.com, by calling 800- SHOP-CVS (800-746-7287), or by asking their CVS pharmacist.
Kmart pharmacists have long been supporters of adult immunizations and have hosted nurse-provided vaccinations for many years. The pharmacy began offering pharmacist-administered flu vaccinations in 2003. This year's flu clinics are scheduled to run through mid- November at >1000 clinics in Kmart, Sears Essential, and Sears Grand stores across the country and in Puerto Rico. Patients with proof of coverage under Medicare Part B can receive the flu shot for free. Patients paying out of pocket will be charged $25. All flu immunization clinics will follow any and all current CDC guidelines and restrictions pertaining to the administration of seasonal influenza vaccine. Clinics may be required to select patients to receive the vaccine based upon risk-based criteria provided by the agency. Otherwise, the flu shots will be given on a first-come, first-served basis in a majority of cases. Patients can find more information about the flu clinics by contacting their local Kmart pharmacy or by calling the Kmart Pharmacy Flu Shot Locator at 800-822-8345.
The 2006-2007 flu season marks the 13th year that Walgreens has been offering the flu vaccine program. Scheduled at >6000 clinics, the Walgreens program runs through November 17. Each flu shot costs $25, and pneumonia shots are $40. Shots will be given on a first-come, first-served basis, unless the CDC issues guidelines related to a shortage of the vaccine. Patients can find additional information by calling 800-358-9950, by visiting www.walgreens.com, from in-store signage, or by asking a Walgreens pharmacist.
The upcoming flu season marks the second year that Wal-Mart and Sam's Club will be administering flu shots. The clinics, offered at 3700 locations, will be held October 21 to 22 and October 28 to 29. The cost is $25, and Medicare and Humana insurance plans will be accepted. No appointment is required, and the shots will be given on a first-come, first-served or priority basis. Patients can find more information at www.walmart.com.