NEWS WATCH: FLU VACCINE SUPPLY NOW EXCEEDS DEMAND...MPA UPDATES RETAILER AWARDS, NOMINATING PROCESS...WALGREENS TO STOP ACCEPTING AMERICAN EXPRESS

FLU VACCINE SUPPLY NOW EXCEEDS DEMANDhat had retailers hopping last fall may not be as dire as originally thought, according to government statements and news reports last month. People in high-risk groups are not coming forward to get vaccinated in high enough numbers. About 50% of people in high-risk groups have stepped aside and not been vaccinated, said Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers

FLU VACCINE SUPPLY NOW EXCEEDS DEMAND

hat had retailers hopping last fall may not be as dire as originally thought, according to government statements and news reports last month. People in high-risk groups are not coming forward to get vaccinated in high enough numbers. About 50% of people in high-risk groups have stepped aside and not been vaccinated, said Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here in a briefing. As a result, the CDC has revised its recommendations. "Our goal is common sense. Let's use the vaccine for the high-priority people, but if we have extra doses in small volumes that can't be used, let's vaccinate the next group of people, which would include people age 50 and older who last year we did recommend immunization for: health care workers, household contacts and so forth," Gerberding said. The CDC continued to encourage organizations and businesses to return their vaccine to health officials for reallocation, she said.

MPA UPDATES RETAILER AWARDS, NOMINATING PROCESS

NEW YORK -- The Magazine Publishers of America and the International Periodical Distributors Association have renamed their retailer awards as the Periodical Merchandising Best Practices Awards. Also, MPA and IPDA will invite retailers to nominate themselves to encourage greater participation. Applications are due Jan. 7. Willard Bishop Consulting, Barrington, Ill., will oversee the award-selection process. The associations have added a Hall of Fame award to honor one retailer who has consistently driven higher levels of magazine and book category management over time, and established two Periodical Merchandising Excellence awards: one for a retailer in the bookstores and terminals division, another to a retailer in the general retail division, which includes supermarkets, mass merchandisers, convenience stores and other outlets. The awards, which had previously been known as the Retailer Best Practices Awards, will be presented at Retail Conference 2005: The Marketing of Magazines and Books on March 1 in Phoenix.

WALGREENS TO STOP ACCEPTING AMERICAN EXPRESS

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Walgreens here will stop accepting cards issued by American Express, New York, effective Jan. 14, citing high service fees, according to media reports. American Express fees are higher than those associated with Visa or MasterCard, the reports said. The chain will continue to accept other credit cards. According to the reports, Walgreens said American Express cards only account for a small fraction of total credit card transactions. Walgreen competitor CVS, Woonsocket, R.I., announced the same week that it will become the first national partner to accept the American Express ExpressPay, a payment process that works by radio frequency without requiring a signature, according to other reports.

ECKERD/BROOKS PHARMACY ROLLS OUT COPY CENTERS

WARWICK, R.I. -- Eckerd/Brooks Pharmacy, a subsidiary of Jean Coutu USA based here, will operate copy centers in all of its locations, according to a statement from the vendor involved. Through a partnership with TRM Corp., Portland, Ore., all of the chain's 1,549 locations, including more than 1,300 acquired from Eckerd Drug, will operate TRM Convenience Copy Centers. Eckerd currently has 200 installations. "At Eckerd Drug and Brooks Pharmacy, we are focused on providing quality, value-added services for our customers, and TRM has proved to be a strong partner in helping us to achieve that goal," said Tony Sadler, vice president operations services, Eckerd/Brooks Pharmacy, in a statement.