DEERFIELD, IL — Manufacturers are making millions of extra flu vaccine doses to meet the highly anticipated demand for flu shots this season. Walgreens, headquartered in Deerfield, began offering flu shots Monday at all 9,100 of its pharmacies.
"The convergence of COVID-19 and flu season means that flu vaccinations are critical to reduce the overall burden of respiratory illnesses on the healthcare system and help protect communities," said Dr. Kevin Ban, chief medical officer for Walgreens, said in a statement. "Getting your flu shot at Walgreens is one more thing we know everyone can do to help keep themselves and their loved ones healthy, in addition to social distancing, thorough hand washing and wearing face coverings."
Customers are required to wear face coverings prior to entering the store and when receiving flu shots. Walgreens said it will provide masks to those not wearing them prior to their shot, according to the release.
Walgreens Boots Alliance, the parent company of Walgreens, announced a number of safety protocols that will be followed at all of its pharmacies, including:
Enhanced cleaning regimens, social distancing protocols and plexiglass shields at registers are maintained at all Walgreens locations.
Pharmacy team members wear disposable facemasks at all times, including while administering the flu shot. They also follow proper hand hygiene and glove use procedures that are typical for immunizations.
As an additional safety measure, all pharmacy team members administering flu shots wear plastic face shields for additional protection.
Prior to administration of an immunization, pharmacy team members will take patients’ temperature and screen for the presence of symptoms or illness. Immunizations will be deferred if a patient has a fever or other symptoms associated with illness until after symptoms are resolved.
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Walgreens said the CDC is predicting 60 percent of U.S. adults plan to get a flu shot in the fall, while just 45 percent of U.S. adults got vaccinated during the 2018-19 influenza season.
"Throughout the pandemic, Walgreens continues to make the health and safety of its team members and customers a top priority," Ban said. "We want our patients to know that we are there to help them and are taking precautions necessary to keep our communities safe."
Who can get a flu shot:
The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months receives a flu shot—Walgreens pharmacies can provide flu immunizations for anyone over the age of 4 and age restrictions vary based on state regulations, according to the release.
The flu shot is free, no cost to the patient, with most insurance.
Flu shots are also free to the patient with Medicare Part B and Medicaid in certain states.
How to prepare for a visit:
Complete paperwork online and bring it with you to reduce time in the pharmacy.
Walk-in to Walgreens for a flu shot at any time or schedule an appointment online at a time convenient for you.
Find the nearest Walgreens via the store locator or Walgreens Find Care.
Bring a face covering and remember to put it on before entering the store.
Those who do not have a facemask will be provided one prior to receiving the flu shot.
Wear loose-fitting clothing and bring insurance information and photo ID.