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Retailers remind consumers to get flu, COVID shots, testing

Retailers, including Walgreens and Kinney Drugs are reminding consumers about flu and COVID-19 immunizations and testing offerings as the U.S. heads into peak respiratory illness season.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
Levy

As the U.S. heads into the holidays and the winter months that typically coincide with peak respiratory illness season, Walgreens and Kinney Drugs announced how they can help consumers stay healthy. 

Walgreens announced that it is offering flu and COVID-19 testing appointments nationwide. 

Noting that national flu rates have increased by 29% post-Thanksgiving, Walgreens said it’s as important as ever for people to take all precautions against respiratory illnesses this season, and Walgreens’ pharmacists are here to help.

Individuals can visit online here, use the Walgreens app to schedule an appointment. Walgreens also provides various in-store and at-home testing and treatment options to help everyone stay healthy and feel better faster if they are experiencing symptoms.

“Respiratory illness activity and hospitalizations are picking up in many parts of the U.S., and these numbers are likely to continue increasing in the coming months,” said Anita Patel, vice president of pharmacy service development at Walgreens. “In addition to staying up to date on your vaccinations, getting tested, seeking treatment promptly and practicing good respiratory etiquette are all important steps to protect yourself and your loved ones this winter, especially if you are feeling sick or planning to travel and gather for the holidays.”

[Read more: Walgreens releases 2023-2024 flu index]

Testing:

Testing is the best way to know for sure if you have a specific respiratory virus, so you can take appropriate precautions and get the right relief or treatment immediately. Walgreens offers convenient rapid and PCR testing options in-store, including a “2 results in 1" rapid test for COVID-19 and influenza that costs $19.99 and delivers results within 30 minutes. Uninsured patients may also be eligible to receive an in-store test as part of the Health and Human Services free testing program.

In addition, Walgreens offers at-home rapid tests for COVID-19, which are available in-store or via 24-hour same-day delivery and are covered by many insurance plans.

Treatment:

Once you know your test results, your pharmacist can help you determine the best next steps and get the appropriate treatment as soon as possible, whether that’s a prescription medicine or over-counter essentials to manage your symptoms. In many locations, the pharmacist may be able to prescribe medicine directly if you test positive for flu or COVID-19, further simplifying the path to recovery.

In select states, patients can also utilize Walgreens’ Virtual Healthcare offering to consult with a healthcare provider on common health needs including follow-up care or prescriptions for COVID-19 and flu. Visit Walgreens.com/Topic/Virtual-Healthcare to learn more about this fast, affordable, on-demand service.

“Prevention, testing and treatment are all important tools for managing respiratory illnesses,” said Patel. “People are increasingly relying on pharmacies as a one-stop destination for these services and deepening their relationships with their community pharmacists, who work tirelessly to provide the care and information they need all season long. As the nature of respiratory illness season continues to evolve post-pandemic, we remain focused on being a trusted partner in keeping our communities healthy.”

Walgreens said it is committed to providing timely and accessible testing and treatment solutions to meet everyone’s needs. Talk to your pharmacist or visit Walgreens.com/Testing to learn more and determine which options are right for you.

[Read more: Walgreens rolls out 2022-2023 flu shots]

Walgreens said vaccines are the single most effective way to prevent serious complications of respiratory illnesses, especially if the U.S. experiences further surges of these illnesses later this winter. If you have not yet received your annual flu shot, the updated COVID-19 vaccine or the RSV vaccine (if eligible), the CDC recommends getting these vaccines as soon as possible, Walgreens noted.

Walgreens makes it simple for you and your loved ones to get all the vaccines you need in one visit, with flexible openings including nights, weekends and walk-ins when available. Plus, these vaccines may be at no cost to you. For example:

  • COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be available at no cost to the public. The cost will either be covered by insurance or government assistance programs, such as CDC’s Bridge Access Program.
  • Flu and RSV vaccines are covered by most insurance plans with a $0 copay, and by Medicare and Medicaid in certain states. We encourage individuals to consult with their insurance providers to understand their coverage. 

Visit here, use the Walgreens app or call 1-800-WALGREENS to learn more and schedule an appointment today.

Kinney Drugs is not standing on the sidelines. The retailer is encouraging its customers to schedule their flu shots in advance of the holiday season and the new year celebrations. Flu shots are available for ages 2+ in New York and 3+ in Vermont at any of the 100 Kinney Drugs locations across the two states.

Kinney noted that according to the CDC, receiving the influenza vaccine is the most effective way to prevent oneself from getting sick with the flu. Flu vaccination also can reduce the severity of symptoms, lower the risk of hospitalizations or complications and protect vulnerable groups within the community such as older adults, children, those that have chronic conditions or are pregnant, the retailer said.

“We are all looking forward to enjoying the holidays with our family and friends, and it’s important to do it as safely as possible,” said John Marraffa, president of Kinney Drugs. "By getting your flu shot, you help protect yourself, your family, and your community, so don't wait!"

Kinney Drugs offers a convenient and safe way to get vaccinated. Customers can schedule an appointment online here or by visiting their local Kinney Drugs pharmacy.

Kinney Drugs provides many other vaccines and immunizations, such as COVID-19, shingles, pneumonia and more. For more information, visit here

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