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Walgreens Expands H1N1 Vaccine Offerings


Walgreen’s, the largest drug store in the United States, has announced that by the end of the year, they will expand its H1N1 vaccination program into every state nationwide.

The retailer already offers the H1N1 in about 1,500 locations in 27 states and Washington DC, less than 25% of its more than 7140 stores. Rival CVS Caremark is also offering the vaccine in 20 states and in DC. Rite Aid is at number 3, offering vaccinations in 12 states, but orders are being shipped to expand into more areas as more vaccine becomes available.

Walmart, the largest U.S. retailer by revenue, has plans to expand to 30 states by the end of the week, and all states as it becomes available. Vaccinations by Walmart are being handled by Mollen Immunization Clinics.

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Until recently, several states had restrictions on H1N1 vaccination availability, which limited retail pharmacies such as Walgreens to only a few markets. They followed priority guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on who should get the vaccines. The store has administered about 200,000 vaccinations so far this year.

Walgreen Co, which operates Walgreens drugstores and Take Care clinics, has more than 17,000 workers approved to administer the vaccinations, and is also offering the seasonal flu vaccine in most locations.

Store locations for H1N1 vaccines can be found on the company’s consumer website at www.walgreens.com. Vaccination schedules are subject to vaccine availability and those seeking the vaccine should contact the store ahead of time to ensure availability and hours for the clinic. In the event of a vaccine shortage, the company states that it will use the CDC’s guidelines to set priority for those at highest risk for complications from the H1N1 or seasonal flu.

Medicare Part B patients may have reimbursement coverage for the vaccine in some cases. The Medicare card must be presented at the time of service.

The CDC has said that swine flu has infected one in six people in the United States since arriving in April and has killed nearly 10,000. In a typical year, seasonal influenza kills 36,000 Americans.