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Experts estimate that five to 20 percent of the U.S. population will get the flu each year. On average, 200,000 Americans will be hospitalized because of problems with the illness. From a public health perspective, it is one of the biggest challenges we face each year, with an average of $10 billion being spent on hospitalizations and outpatient doctor visits related to the flu.[i]
Despite years of government urgings to vaccinate, just 45 percent of American adults got a flu shot last year.[ii]Officials would like to see that number rise to be closer to 70 percent.[iii]
FamilyWize Community Service Partnership, together with Walgreens and the United Way, are providing a series of community health clinic events at no-cost to make the flu vaccination more accessible in communities throughout the country. Their collective goal is to to help deliver flu shots to uninsured and underinsured residents and encourage preventive measures heading into the winter months and the peak of flu season.
At specific events located throughout the country, Walgreens will be administering no-cost flu shots to all those who qualify for a flu shot voucher. The vouchers are available on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last, and are provided by Walgreens as part of a nationwide program that helps to make flu shots available to those without health insurance coverage or who are unable to afford a flu shot.
The flu shot voucher program is made possible by several national organizations working together to help those in need.
“Walgreens is committed to improving patient care and access to pharmacy services in communities across the country, which is one of the many reasons why we’re proud to continue our collaboration with FamilyWize,” said Tracy Vilvens, Vice President, National Accounts at Walgreens, in a statement to Drug Topics. “Over the last three years, we’ve distributed nearly 10,000 flu vouchers at FamilyWize community events, helping the uninsured and underinsured protect themselves and their loved ones from the flu.”
Walgreens operates 8,175 drugstores with a presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with its omnichannel business, Walgreens.com. Approximately 400 Walgreens stores offer Healthcare Clinic or other provider retail clinic services.
“Providing no-cost flu shots to our communities is one of many ways we partner with FamilyWize to positively impact families nationwide. While you can save on medications with FamilyWize using their discount card or app, the flu shot program is another initiative that United Way truly values this time every year,” said Traci Wickett, President & CEO at United Way of Southern Cameron County (TX).
United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. United Way is the world’s largest privately funded nonprofit organization, supported by 2.8 million volunteers, 9.8 million donors worldwide, and more than $4.7 billion raised every year.
“At FamilyWize, we care about Americans being able to afford what they need to stay healthy. Whether it’s prescription medications or preventative vaccines, our mission is to support the communities we serve and make a happy, healthy life accessible to everyone,” said Joseph Sanginiti, President and CEO of FamilyWize.
Despite being a relatively quick and easy way to avoid getting sick, there are many reasons why people avoid flu vaccinations. Unfortunately, one of those reasons is cost. A 2016 survey showed that more than half of millennials said they don't plan to get a flu shot, and a quarter cited cost as the reason.[iv] For those without insurance or who are underinsured, any visit to a physician’s office often feels intimidating. And sadly, for many Americans, even a discounted flu shot program is cost prohibitive.
Accessibility also plays a role in who receives a flu shot. Approximately 20 percent of all flu shots are administered at places of employment, by employers who want to keep as many workers healthy and in the office as possible throughout the winter.[v] Obviously those programs are only available to those who are employed and able to visit the clinics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for anyone six months of age or older. CDC experts recommend getting the flu shot before the end of October, if possible, as the body needs approximately two weeks to create antibodies to protect against the flu. However, obtaining a vaccination later in the season is still considered to be a good precaution.[vi]
Every day, people without adequate insurance coverage struggle to pay for more than just their flu shot. Too often, they also have to make tough decisions about how to afford their prescription medications. Since 2005, FamilyWize has helped over 10 million Americans save more than $1 billion on their prescription drugs, regardless of their insurance coverage. By aggregating large groups of patients, FamilyWize advocates and negotiates for deep discounts on prescription drugs, discounts it then passes on in full to patients. By showing the Free FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card to their pharmacist, consumers can save on their prescription medications, with average savings of around 40 percent. The card (and mobile app) is free for all, has unlimited use, and no eligibility requirements.
“Well over 80 million people are still uninsured or underinsured in America today. This vaccination program is just one way we are working to reach them and assist in their healthcare,” said Dan Barnes, Executive Chairman & Co-Founder of FamilyWize. “We believe that everyone has a fundamental right to quality, accessible, and affordable healthcare, and that no one should ever have to choose between their health and other basic needs, regardless of economic circumstances, age, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.”
Mike Carollo, Director of Marketing at FamilyWize