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Safeway Inc. plans to offer flu vaccines on a "walk-in" basis at its pharmacies and through scheduled flu vaccine clinics at most other Safeway stores, and will also provide an off-site flu clinic service 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 have made the process of getting a flu vaccine affordable and convenient,” said Gary Rocheleau, Safeway SVP of pharmacy. “Individuals have no reason to go unprotected this flu season nor should businesses risk lost productivity due to a sick workforce.”
According to the CDC, all people aged 6 months and older should receive the flu vaccination each year. In addition, to avoid the risk of flu-related complications, the CDC stresses the importance of people with chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, COPD, or immunosuppressive conditions, receive a flu vaccine this season.
Since flu viruses are always changing, flu vaccines are updated each year, making it important for individuals to be vaccinated on an annual basis. This year's flu shot was developed to protect against the H1N1 virus and two other influenza viruses. People that received the H1N1 flu vaccine during the last flu season will still need to get the seasonal flu vaccine this year.
In the coming weeks, all Safeway pharmacies will be administering a high-dose flu vaccine called Fluzone High-Dose which has been approved by the FDA for use in people 65 years of age and older. Adults above the age of 65 comprise 15 percent of the US population, but account for 65 percent of flu-related hospitalizations and 90 percent of flu-related deaths. Fluzone High Dose contains the same components as regular strength flu vaccine but provides a superior immune response in people 65 years of age and older.
In other news, Safeway has made an important change to its eScrip fundraising program by asking schools and groups to allocate 20 percent of the more than $20 million in annual Safeway donations to fitness and nutrition activities, which better aligns with the retailer’s philosophy of supporting preventative care and research.
"With fitness and nutrition programs being reduced or even eliminated in school districts across the country, Safeway recognizes the critical importance of helping to find and fund solutions," said Larree Renda, Safeway EVP and president of Safeway Health. "The need for businesses to partner with their local schools is even more imperative today as our nation deals with the epidemic of childhood obesity and how the problem impacts the daily lives of students. Our goals are to assist schools in bringing fitness and nutrition to the forefront, reverse the trend of childhood obesity and ensure that children have the important building blocks of good health -- exercise and nutritious food.”
Safeway's eScrip program allows customers to earn money for the school of their choice just by shopping with their Safeway Club Card.
In addition to the fitness and nutrition change to the eScrip program, Safeway is offering an additional incentive for school groups to participate and earn donations. The top five schools in each Safeway eScrip market (40 total) that report monthly and dedicate the highest percentage of their funds to fitness and nutrition programs will be eligible for a $1,000 bonus. The $40,000 in bonus checks will be handed out in July 2011.
Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway operates 1,712 stores in the United States and western Canada and had annual sales of $40.8 billion in 2009.