Why is it important to get a flu shot, particularly this season?
The convergence of COVID-19 and flu season means that flu vaccinations are even more critical to reduce the overall burden of respiratory illnesses on the healthcare system and help protect communities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot each season to help protect against the flu. Patients should contact their local pharmacist or healthcare provider about what is right for them.
How can I get a flu shot?
Walgreens accepts walk-ins, or patients may schedule an appointment via our online scheduler.
What do customers need to know to prepare for their flu shot?
- Complete paperwork online in advance 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.
How has Walgreens prepared for the anticipated increased demand for flu vaccinations this season?
We have increased flu vaccine supply given heightened consumer awareness and expectations of greater demand this season.
Among other precautions we’ve taken in our pharmacies to safely administer immunizations, prior to administering an immunization, pharmacy team members will take patients’ temperature and screen for presence of symptoms or illness. If a patient has a fever or other symptoms associated with illness, they will be referred to their healthcare provider and immunizations will be deferred. Pharmacy team members also wear face shields in addition to facemasks required by both pharmacy team members and patients while administering vaccinations.
Walgreens encourages patients to complete paperwork prior to coming to the pharmacy for an immunization to improve the patient experience and reduce time spent in the pharmacy. Walk-ins are accepted or patients may schedule an appointment in advance through our online scheduler.
In an effort to help vaccinate even more people this flu season amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we recently lowered our age requirement to age 3 in most states and will be hosting off-site clinics in local community centers and churches. We continue to closely follow CDC guidance for off-site vaccination clinics, which may include mobile, curbside or drive-thru sites. From a marketing perspective, we’re building on last season’s Flu Fighter campaign to educate consumers on the important role flu shots play in helping to protect the health of communities. With the anticipated convergence of COVID-19 and flu season, our materials will have increased focus on the quality and safety measures in place at our pharmacies.
We want our patients to know that we are there to help in any way we can and are taking the precautions necessary to keep our communities safe. Walgreens will continue to follow CDC guidance as they update their recommendations on when and how best to safely administer immunizations in a pharmacy setting.
How are you ensuring the safety of your pharmacy team members and your customers?
Throughout the pandemic, Walgreens continues to meet or exceed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for safety and precautions, including enhanced cleaning regimens, social distancing protocols and plexiglass shields at registers. Key measures Walgreens is implementing to ensure the safe administration of immunizations for our patients and pharmacy team members include:
- 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. Vaccinations will be deferred if a patient has a fever or other symptoms associated with illness until after symptoms are resolved.
Will Walgreens be offering alternative services for patients to receive vaccinations outside a pharmacy setting, like at the drive-thru, and/or mobile clinics with patients waiting outside or in their cars while waiting for vaccinations?
At this time Walgreens is exploring all options to best safely administer vaccinations to our patients both inside and outside of our stores. We continue to closely follow CDC guidance for off-site vaccination clinics, which may include mobile, curbside or drive-thru sites.
How are you supporting low-income/underserved communities in need of flu shots?
Walgreens has a long history of stepping up to support our communities, and providing flu shots is another way we’re providing accessible care for our patients and protecting communities from vaccine-preventable diseases. This is particularly important during the pandemic in anticipation of heightened consumer awareness and desire to be protected this flu season, which health officials warn may coincide with COVID-19.
With minorities at greater risk for both flu and COVID-19, we’re exploring ways we can better reach some of the most vulnerable, underserved communities. For example, we will be hosting off-site clinics in local community centers and churches. We’re also looking at how we can engage these same organizations and trusted leaders to educate communities on why the flu shot is particularly important this season and dispel common myths.
This builds on our immunization outreach program established in 2015 to provide greater access to immunizations and protect communities from vaccine-preventable diseases. To date, Walgreens pharmacists have led nearly 150,000 clinics outside of our stores with partners that may include employers or community organizations like non-profits and churches.
Additionally, as we’ve been doing since 2010, we will distribute 200,000 vouchers to community organizations nationwide. The organizations chosen vary by market, but is a collaborative effort with the field leadership to help identify organizations that can best help with the distribution to those in need.
How will Walgreens approach in-store flu clinics this season?
At this time, we are evaluating how to safely host flu clinics at our store locations to best support the health and wellness needs of the communities we serve.
What’s the difference between the flu and coronavirus?
Influenza (the flu) and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are both contagious infections caused by viruses that spread through respiratory droplets. They can cause mild to severe illnesses and similar symptoms, including fever, cough, body aches and fatigue.
While they share some similarities, the flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses. The flu can be caused by several types and strains of the influenza virus. Flu viruses can be detected year-round in the U.S., but illnesses tend to be more common during the fall and winter months. The best way to protect yourself against the flu, according to CDC, is to receive a flu vaccine each year.
COVID-19 is caused by one virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2. It has been circulating in the U.S. since early 2020, and it isn’t yet known if illnesses are more common during certain months. Unlike the flu, there is no vaccine for COVID-19 yet, but scientists are currently working on testing and developing one.
Note that much is still unknown about COVID-19, but at this time it appears as if COVID-19 has a higher mortality (death) rate than most strains of the flu.
Is it possible to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time?
Yes. It is possible to test positive for both flu and COVID-19 at the same time.
Will a flu shot prevent me from getting COVID-19?
No. The flu viruses are different from the virus that causes COVID-19. The flu shot will only protect you from the flu. However, the CDC is urging everyone over 6 months of age to get a flu shot to protect communities from vaccine-preventable illnesses.
Does the flu shot increase the risk of getting COVID-19?
No. According to the CDC, there is no evidence that getting the flu shot increases the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.
Will Walgreens plan to administer COVID-19 vaccinations in the future?
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the value and importance of pharmacies in supporting the health and wellbeing of communities across the nation. A COVID-19 vaccine will be critical to accelerating America’s recovery and helping to protect people from the virus. We are continuing to collaborate with the Administration, CDC and HHS on COVID-19 testing and have also been in contact about the integral role pharmacies can play to achieve greater immunization rates, and further access to a COVID-19 vaccine, once approved and commercially available.