Seniors, Get in Line: It's Vaccine Time

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that adults 60 years of age and older be vaccinated with the shingles vaccine Zostavax. Seniors also should consider getting an annual flu shot.

Pharmacists have the opportunityto expand immunization servicesto seniors by offering the shinglesand influenza vaccines. The Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention?s (CDC)Advisory Committee on ImmunizationPractices has recommended that adultsaged 60 and older be vaccinated withZostavax (Zoster Vaccine Live [Oka/Merck]) to prevent herpes zoster, commonlyknown as shingles. The FDA approvedZostavax on May 25, 2006.

Herpes zoster is caused by the samevirus that causes chickenpox. Shingles is arash that usually manifests on one side ofthe body. The rash begins as a cluster ofsmall red spots that often blister, and therash can be extremely painful, accordingto Zostavax patient information.

The shingles vaccine is not the onlyimmunization seniors should consider.One of the national health objectives for2010 is to achieve an influenza vaccinationcoverage level of 90% for individualsaged ≥65, according to the CDC. Theagency reported that influenza kills anestimated 36,000 Americans each yearand hospitalizes 200,000. For the upcoming2007-2008 flu season, flu vaccine manufacturersestimate 132 million doses tobe available.

Although not all chain pharmaciesoffer the shingles vaccine, they do holdannual flu programs.In March 2007, Walgreens began offeringthe Zostavax vaccine year-round atselect pilot Walgreens stores. The vaccineis administered by certified Walgreenspharmacists. The pharmacy doesplan to expand its offering in stateswhere certified pharmacists are allowedto immunize for shingles.The chain pharmacy recommendsappointments forthe vaccine or contactingthe pharmacy. For additionalinformation, visit www.walgreens.com/shots.

Walgreens offers 2 separateflu programs. The Walgreenspharmacist-administeredprogram continuesthrough December 15 at>5000 clinics in 31 states.Each flu shot costs $24.99.The store accepts somethird-party plans and takesMedicare Part B?eligiblepatients. The pharmacyadministeredprogram encouragesappointments toreduce customer wait timeand to ensure that adequatevaccine supply isavailable.

The 2007-2008 flu seasonmarks the 14th year thatWalgreens has been offeringflu shot clinics. In 17 states, mostlywhere pharmacists are not allowed toadminister vaccines, shots are administeredat about 1300 Maxim clinics. Thisprogram runs through November 30.Each flu shot costs $30, and insurancecoverage varies by state. Shots will begiven on a first-come, first-served basis,unless otherwise advised by the CDC.

Patients can find additional informationon both programs by calling 800-358-9950, by visiting www.walgreens.com/flu, from in-store signage, or by askinga Walgreens pharmacist.

Publix recently added Zostavax to itslist of vaccines in Alabama, Tennessee,and South Carolina. The chain is consideringadding Georgia locations. Noappointment is required, and the costdepends on the patient?s third-party/Medicare coverage.

For the last 5 years, Publix has beenoffering its flu shot program. The programruns through flu season (March) aslong as the vaccine is available.

The cost for the flu shot is $30, andMedicare Part B is accepted. The vaccinewill be administered on a first-come,first-served basis. Publix does acceptwalk-ins at some locations. Patients canfind out more information by visitingwww.publix.com/flu, by calling 877-629-3580, or from in-store signage andposters.

At this time, Kmart does not have a formalZostavax vaccine program. Kmartpharmacists who have received theappropriate immunization training, practicein a state that allows administrationof this vaccine, and have the appropriateprescriber?s order (ie, prescription) maygive the vaccine, however. The store isinvestigating options to expand its vaccinationservices.

Kmart Pharmacy has offered pharmacist-administered flu immunizations for 3years. This year?s flu clinics will continueuntil vaccine supplies are exhausted at>1100 flu vaccination clinics, with walkinsavailable at select locations basedupon available vaccine and staffing byKmart pharmacists with immunizationcertification. The store does acceptMedicare Part B and many private insuranceplans. As dictated by the CDC, in theevent of a vaccine shortage, priority willbe given to specified patient groups.Lacking a specific CDC directive, clinicswill be conducted on a first-come, firstservedbasis. Patients can find out moreinformation by visiting www.kmart.com,calling 800-822-8345, or asking a Kmartpharmacist.

Currently, CVS does not offer theZostavax vaccine ?because the very specificconditions with which it must bestored make it logistically impractical forus to keep in our inventory,? according toa company spokesman.

In markets where allowed, CVS pharmacistswill be administering flu shotsthis year in addition to the chain?s regularflu clinics. CVS, which has been offeringflu clinics for >10 years, will conduct itsprogram through November at >4000CVS stores. Clinics will be a combinationof pharmacist-administered shots andthe standard clinics run by the store?shealth care vendor partners. Furthermore,some pharmacist-administeredsites will offer on-demand flu shot servicesand all CVS MinuteClinic in-store locationswill offer daily, walk-in vaccinationservice. Scheduled clinics will operate ona first-come, first-served basis. Each flushot costs $30. Medicare Part B recipientswho have not reassigned their prescriptioncoverage benefits to an HMOmay get a flu shot at no cost when theypresent their Medicare Part B card.

Patients can find out more informationby calling 800-SHOP-CVS (800-746-7287)or by visiting www.cvs.com and clickingon the store finder link. The link will havea flu clinic search function. All storeshosting clinics will also have their flu clinicschedule posted. For a related article,go to www.pharmacytimes.com/vaccines.