Walgreens Flu Index: South, Southwest Continue to Show Highest Flu Activity

December 4, 2019

Louisiana, along with other southern and southwestern US states, topped the Walgreens Flu Index report for highest incidences of flu for November.

Louisiana, along with other southern and southwestern US states, topped the Walgreens Flu Index report for highest incidences of flu for November, according to Walgreens.1

The Walgreens Flu Index uses prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza across thousands of Walgreens and Duane Reade locations nationwide to identify the top Designated Market Areas (DMAs) and states for flu activity. Data is analyzed at state and geographic market levels to measure absolute impact and incremental change of antiviral medication a per store average basis, and does not include markets in which Walgreens has fewer than 10 retail locations.1

For the 2019-2020 flu season, the index also shows how the current flu activity compares with last season. For instance, November data from the report demonstrate more widespread flu activity for southern states this year. Index levels are also significantly higher in Louisiana, Nevada, Texas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee compared with this time last year.1

Related: Vaccination Programs Bring Pharmacy Profits

According to Walgreens, the Flu Index is not intended to illustrate levels or severity of flu activity, but rather illustrate which populations are experiencing the highest incidence of flu.1

These are the top 10 DMAs with flu activity in the month of November listed in the report:1

  • Lafayette, Louisiana

  • Alexandria, Louisiana

  • Biloxi-Gulfport, Missouri

  • Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas

  • New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Dothan, Alabama

  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana

  • Tyler-Longview (Lufkin & Nacogdoches), Texas

  • Victoria, Texas

The top 10 states with flu activity for November:1

  • Louisiana

  • Nevada

  • Texas

  • Mississippi

  • New Mexico

  • Tennessee

  • Alabama

  • Nebraska

  • Florida

  • Arkansas

A recent survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago on behalf of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases found that just 52% of respondents said they planned to get vaccinated against the flu for this season. Of those surveyed over the summer, 18% weren’t sure of their plans. Statistics from the CDC showed a 6% drop in flu vaccinations in the 2017-2018 season compared with the year before, with only 37.1% of adults who had been vaccinated.2

As a reminder of the importance of influenza vaccination, the CDC established National Influenza Vaccination Week, which takes place this week December 1-7, 2019. According to the CDC, previous flu vaccination coverage data have shown that few individuals get vaccinated against influenza after the end of November. The awareness week is designed to remind those that, even though the holiday season has begun, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine.3

Weekly reports of the Walgreens Flu Index are available through an online, interactive map. The latest report can be found here.

References:

1. Walgreens Flu Index® November Report Shows South and Southwest Top Flu Activity List [news release]. Walgreens’ website. https://news.walgreens.com/press-releases/walgreens-flu-index-november-report-shows-south-and-southwest-top-flu-activity-list.htm?view_id=8260. Accessed December 4, 2019. 
2. National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. NFID Survey: Attitudes about Influenza and Pneumococcal Disease Prevention. 2019. https://www.nfid.org/about-nfid/newsroom/news-conferences/2019-nfid-influenza-pneumococcal-disease-news-conference/national-poll-attitudes-about-flu-and-pneumococcal-disease-prevention/. Accessed December 4, 2019.
3. CDC. About National Influenza Vaccination Week. CDC’s website.  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/nivw/about.htm. Accessed December 4, 2019.