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Walgreens & HHS Provide Uninsured Americans with $10 Million Worth of Free Flu Shot Vouchers

SEP 15, 2016 | KRISTI ROSA
During this flu season, Walgreens, in a collaborative effort with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to improve rates of flu vaccination, announced that they will be providing over $10 million in free flu shot vouchers for Americans who are uninsured, according to a recent press release.

J. Nadine Gracia, MD MSCE, deputy assistant secretary for minority health and director of the HHS Office of Minority Health, commented, “Since 2010, this partnership has helped us make substantial strides in addressing disparities in flu vaccination coverage by providing free flu shots for more than 1.4 million people. As the flu season approaches, our continued collaboration will help protect hundreds of thousands of people from influenza, which can make chronic health problems worse or lead to hospitalization or even death.”

Influenza is a respiratory illness that can range in symptoms from mild to severe. Severe cases of influenza can result in hospitalization or even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although the severity of the flu varies by season, the CDC reports that, “millions of people are sickened, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu every year,” which makes taking appropriate preventive measures, such as vaccination, even more important.

Through the use of “a variety of outreach efforts, local events and community and faith-based organizations nationwide,” Walgreens and the HHS are distributing the free flu shot vouchers. These vouchers allow for one flu shot to be administered to each uninsured individual at any Walgreens pharmacy (in the United States, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands), Duane Read pharmacy, and Walgreens Healthcare Clinic locations. Walgreens urges those who qualify for the free vouchers to call 866-994-6757 to find a location near them where these vouchers may be available.

Walgreens' president of pharmacy and retail operations, Richard Ashworth, said, “We’re proud to continue to grow our collaboration with HHS and to be working together to meet the health care needs of the communities we serve. We know that cost can be a barrier for some people when it comes to vaccination and other preventive care. And by providing access to flu shots at no cost for those eligible, we can make a significant impact by protecting more people throughout the flu season.”

According to the CDC, the ultimate protection against acquiring influenza is vaccination, but there preventive efforts that can be taken, including avoiding any kind of close contact with those who exhibits symptoms, staying home when sick in order to prevent transmitting the illness to others, covering your cough or sneeze with tissues, performing good hand hygiene using soap and water, and avoiding touching your eyes, mouth, or nose to avoid contamination.
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Influenza A (H3N2) has caused most of the illnesses in this severe flu season, but influenza B is becoming increasingly responsible for more infections as the flu season continues to hit the United States.