Walgreens has launched the 2023-2024 Flu Index, an online interactive tool used across the industry for more than a decade to help communities track flu activity in their area and serve as an important reminder to get protected with a flu shot.
This year, flu activity is 66% lower than this time last year. However, activity is 34% higher when looking at pre-pandemic seasons, such as from 2018 to 2019.
Activity rose 13% over the past week and has risen 14% weekly on average over the past month, indicating the potential for a peak – or multiple peaks – in flu cases later in the winter.
Top markets seeing the highest flu activity include Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville- McAllen, Texas (1.20x the national average), Lafayette, La. (0.57x the national average), and Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (0.50x the national average). Top markets seeing the biggest week-over-week increases in activity include Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas, Lafayette, La. and Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas.
[Read more: Walgreens rolls out 2022-2023 flu shots]
Top states and territories seeing the highest flu activity include Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Louisiana. Top states and territories seeing the biggest week-over-week increases in activity include Alaska, Louisiana and Puerto Rico.
The Walgreens COVID-19 Index shows a national positivity rate of 26.2% as of Oct. 15, down 35.5% from this time last month. However, 21 U.S. states are seeing positivity rates above that national average, with Oklahoma (41.8%), New York (40.6%) and Nevada (40%) topping the list.
"After several atypical flu seasons, this year’s flu index is showing a more gradual ramp-up of flu activity closer to the pre-COVID norm. While it’s early days and flu season is always unpredictable, our historical data suggest this could be a return to a typical two-wave flu season where activity starts to peak in December and reaches its highest point in February, rather than the single peak we saw last year, which was earlier but lower than the norm,” said Kevin Ban, chief medical officer of Walgreens.
[Read more: CVS Health survey: More than two-thirds of Americans plan to get a flu shot this season]
Ban added, "It’s just as important as ever to get your annual flu shot, and now is the time to do it. With COVID-19 surging, pandemic precautions continuing to ease, and people gathering in person more frequently this fall and winter, keeping up with all your recommended immunizations is the best way to keep you and your loved ones protected as we head into the holidays and peak flu season. Walgreens makes it easy for the whole family to get annual flu shots, the updated COVID-19 vaccine and the RSV vaccine for those eligible, all in one visit.”
To schedule a vaccination appointment visit online here, use the Walgreens app or call 1-800-WALGREENS. When recommended, individuals can schedule multiple respiratory and routine immunizations during the same visit.
Walgreens offers standard-dose flu shots and options like high-dose or adjuvanted flu vaccines, which the CDC recommends for patients aged 65 years old and older. In addition, its pharmacy team members can administer flu shots to eligible individuals aged 3 years old and older.
The retailer also offers multiple convenient, low-cost testing options for flu, including PCR tests and an easy "2 results in 1" rapid test for influenza A and B and COVID-19. The “2 results in 1” test is now available in most locations nationwide for individuals aged 3 years old and older. It’s administered by a pharmacy team member via a single swab and delivers results within 30 minutes.
Walgreens also offers a full range of over-the-counter and prescription medications to manage flu symptoms, including 24-hour same-day delivery for medicine cabinet essentials.