CVS, RiteAid, Sam's Club Prep For Flu Season

Marked-down beach pails and swim noodles are clogging the aisles of America’s drugstores, which are already filling with Halloween candy. On the retail calendar, that can mean only one thing: It’s flu season, and influenza shots are here. CVS, RiteAid and Sam’s Club are already offering special deals on the recommended vaccines.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that manufacturers are expected to crank out between 135 million and 139 million doses of the flu vaccine, which covers three strains. While some are available now, it says it expects ample supplies to be on hand by September and October, and recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months get vaccinated.

Among this year’s varieties, in addition to the regular injectable flu shot, are Fluzone HD, a high-dose flu shot approved for people 65 and older; an intradermal flu shot, which uses a smaller needle, and is approved for people 18-64 years of age; and intranasal flu shots.

Although flu season doesn’t peak until the winter months, last year it began four weeks earlier than expected, taking health officials by surprise. It typically takes two weeks for a vaccine to take effect, and the earlier in flu season that people are vaccinated, the fewer outbreaks there are likely to be.

The majority of adults -- 59%, according to a new survey from CVS -- say they consider the shot a social responsibility. Because convenience is a major obstacle (47% of the CVS survey agree it’s a pain in the neck to have to schedule a shot) drug chains, which typically don’t require an appointment, play a key role in immunizations.

As an additional incentive, CVS is offering those who get their jabs at a CVS, or one of its Minute Clinics, a 20% off CVS/
pharmacy Shopping Pass, good for non-pharmacy purchases up to $100.

Rite Aid is also making plenty of noise about its flu shot program, and to win business from employers is implementing onsite workplace flu clinics staffed by Rite Aid pharmacists, as well as voucher programs.

Sam’s Club is using its early flu shot program to help address other immunization needs, offering nine other shots, including those that protect against pneumonia, shingles and whooping cough.

Tags: health, retail
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