CVS/pharmacy, MinuteClinic gear up for 2011-2012 flu season

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark is gearing up for flu season and will leverage both its CVS/pharmacy locations and MinuteClinic sites to provide flu shots for patients every day, including evenings and weekends, and will offer direct medical billing to many national and regional health plans that will cover all or part of the cost of a flu shot.

"By providing 7,800 retail locations across the United States that can offer vaccinations with no appointment necessary, CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic will make getting a flu shot easier than ever this season," said Papatya Tankut, VP pharmacy professional services at CVS/pharmacy. "While the composition of this year's vaccine has not changed from the previous season, immunity from influenza declines over time. Receiving an annual flu shot provides you with the best protection against catching the flu."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu shot as soon as the vaccine is available, including those who were vaccinated last season.

CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic also will make flu shots more accessible this year by providing direct medical billing to many national and regional health plans that will cover all or part of the cost of a flu shot.

In addition to the seasonal flu vaccine, CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic will offer Fluzone High-Dose this season, which will be available for people ages 65 years and older. This higher-dose vaccine is designed to provide stronger protection from influenza to this age group, which has a greater risk of developing a severe illness from influenza. Most Medicare beneficiaries, including those covered by Medicare Part B, can get either version of the flu vaccine for no out-of-pocket cost.

According to the CDC, such retail pharmacies as CVS/pharmacy are an increasingly popular destination for a flu shot, accounting for more than 18% of adults who were vaccinated last season.

CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic are expected to announce the complete details of their 2011 flu vaccination program within the next few weeks.