Stamford, Conn. – Oct. 15, 2015 – Uninsured Americans in seven states will have the opportunity to receive flu shots at no cost this fall thanks to a new collaboration between AmeriCares and Walgreens. More than 30 free clinics and community health centers are scheduled to hold flu clinics before the end of October. Walgreens pharmacists will be on hand to administer the shots to eligible patients at no cost. Children and adults must be uninsured in order to qualify. More than 5,000 low-income patients of AmeriCares-supported clinics in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont are expected to benefit.
“Vaccination is one of the best ways to prevent the flu,” said AmeriCares Medical Officer Dr. Julie Varughese, an infectious disease specialist. “Our new flu shot campaign with Walgreens can help ensure thousands of low-income uninsured Americans have access to this important vaccine. We are doing our part to keep families and communities healthy this winter.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated by October. Seasonal influenza can lead to serious illness, hospitalization and even death. Young children, the elderly and adults with underlying medical conditions are most at risk. The flu vaccine prevented approximately 7.2 million illnesses and 90,000 flu-related hospitalizations in the 2013-2014 flu season, according to the CDC.
The collaboration is part of Walgreens national flu shot voucher program developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is the fifth year for the initiative, through which Walgreens has provided more than $40 million worth of flu shot vouchers since its inception.
The flu vaccination campaign is also an extension of AmeriCares U.S. Program, which supports more than 800 free clinics and community health centers nationwide with free medicine and supplies. The emergency response and global health organization is the nation’s largest provider of donated medical aid to the U.S. health care safety net, last year delivering $117 million in products to a network of clinics and health centers serving 5 million patients in need. The program helps partner clinics to increase capacity, provide comprehensive care, improve health outcomes and reduce costs for patients.
Dr. Nilda Soto, medical director of Open Door Health Center, a free clinic for low-income uninsured patients in south Florida, said the new flu shot campaign is the only opportunity for many of her 4,000 patients to get vaccinated. Prevention, she said, is important for maintaining both patients’ health as well as their livelihoods.
“One person gets sick with something that’s preventable and it can affect their whole family and their ability to provide for their family,” Dr. Soto said.
To find out if a clinic near you is participating go to americares.org/fluclinics