Safeway Inc. is offering seasonal flu vaccines in its U.S. stores at a substantial savings compared with the cost of doctor-administered vaccines. The lower cost will help consumers and businesses control health care spending in a challenging economy.
Now through March 2010, or while supplies last, Safeway stores will provide seasonal flu vaccines on a “walk-in” basis at most stores, and through scheduled flu vaccine clinics at others. The cost of a vaccine administered at a Safeway pharmacy is far below the cost of a shot administered during a doctor office visit. Safeway is also providing an off-site flu clinic service in most states for businesses, senior centers and nursing homes that choose to provide their employees or residents with the convenience of receiving a flu vaccine where they work or live.
“We estimate nearly $100 million in savings to the health care system through our program alone,” said David Fong, Safeway Senior Vice President of Pharmacy. “We have made the process of getting a flu vaccine affordable and convenient. Individuals have no reason to go unprotected this flu season nor should businesses risk lost productivity due to a sick workforce,” said Fong.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts an unusually severe flu season, elevating the urgency for certain groups and demographics to receive the vaccine. This comes as the economy has forced many people to cut costs at the expense of their health. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, one in four Americans said the cost of a doctor's visit has forced them to delay health care in the past year.
While anyone wishing to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that people in the following categories get vaccinated each year:
1. Everyone from 6 months of age to 19 years of age
2. Pregnant women
3. People 50 years of age and older
4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
5. People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
6. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including: