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DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens today announced a donation to the Pan American Health Organization to help make 35,000 doses of flu vaccine available to at-risk populations in Laos and Nicaragua, building upon a successful public-private initiative to help create greater access to seasonal flu vaccine in developing countries.
Working with PAHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the collaborative effort will help the countries develop or expand their vaccination programs. Its primary focus will be target populations identified as high risk for flu complications, including pregnant women. In addition, the effort will help bring guidance to a third country, Uganda, in establishing a future influenza vaccination program. The donation furthers Walgreens' commitment to provide vaccines to populations in need, one year after the drug store chain collaborated with the CDC and World Health Organization to donate flu vaccines to Laos. Last year in Laos, more than 90% of the donated flu vaccine was administered over a two-week period, and in follow-up surveys, a vast majority of people said they’d get vaccinated again.
“Last year’s success was an example of what public-private partnerships can accomplish. This year, this partnership has been able to expand further with new donors and new partner countries. Because of this, people at risk for severe influenza will be protected for the first time,” says Dr. Joseph Bresee, chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in CDC’s Influenza Division.
“Flu shots and adult immunizations are a great example of how we’re transforming the role of community pharmacy, and through this donation, we hope to help improve immunization rates among more populations in need in other parts of the world,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. “Flu arrived earlier and was more severe in the U.S. this past season. By collaborating with government and health officials, we’ve had an opportunity to create greater access to vaccines in underserved communities across America, and this effort furthers our mission to help more people get, stay and live well.”
Following this year’s program, the Lao Ministry of Health and Nicaragua Ministry of Health will work with the CDC to conduct evaluations of the impact of the vaccination programs. Understanding the benefits of influenza vaccination will help build commitments for sustainable vaccine programs in the partner countries.
Walgreens donated $10 million worth of seasonal flu vaccine vouchers this flu season to the Department of Health and Human Services to help drive immunization rates among underserved populations throughout the country. HHS also assisted the drug store chain in the distribution of seasonal flu vaccine vouchers in select markets throughout the country the last three years, which provided free flu vaccinations for the uninsured and underinsured.
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