As flu season approaches and concerns over the coronavirus continue, Kroger Health, the healthcare division of The Kroger Co, on Wednesday announced a comprehensive flu shot program, designed to help Americans get their recommended vaccines amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program includes touchless in-store appointments and drive-thru vaccinations at community Flu Shot Centers across the country. Kroger Health will also provide on-site flu shot programs for businesses and organizations.
Kroger Health operates more than 2,200 pharmacies and 220 clinics (called The Little Clinic) in 35 states serving more than 14 million customers.
“With so many health facilities already overburdened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for all Americans to get a flu shot,” said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health. "At our COVID-19 drive-thru test sites, we were able to assist thousands of people in getting a test in a short amount of time. By using that model to provide flu shots, we hope to provide more customers with a safe, convenient option to get vaccinated."
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that during an average flu season, 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from the flu, with an average of 500,000 flu-related hospitalizations. Since March, more than 370,000 Americans have already been hospitalized as a result of COVID-19, marking the potential for a significant burden on the already taxed healthcare system. In addition, according to symptom lists published by the CDC and the World Health Organization, symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu are similar, which may create the potential for confusion, anxiety and loss of productivity as schools and businesses work through their COVID-19 plans and protocols.
“It will be very difficult for people to determine the difference between flu symptoms and COVID-19,” said Doug Cornelius, health and wellness director for Kroger Health. “That’s why it’s so important for Americans to get a flu shot this year. It not only has been proven to help protect against the flu, but may also help reduce misidentification as COVID-19.”
To receive a flu shot, customers and associates can make an appointment online at krogerhealth.com/flu. They can also complete their pre-visit paperwork online to reduce contact and promote physical distancing. Many insurance companies cover the flu shot with no co-pay.
In addition to its pharmacies and clinics, Kroger Health will be offering flu shots at larger venues such as the Ohio State Fairgrounds and Expo Center, the Salem (Virginia) Civic Center and the Indianapolis Zoo. Additional drive-thru Flu Shot Centers will open in various locations across 19 regions over the next several weeks.
Companies and other organizations also have the option to work with Kroger Health to set up vaccine clinics for their members. Flu shot events can be held on site with flu shots administered by Kroger Health pharmacists or nurse practitioners. Kroger Health is also helping employers address both COVID-19 and flu via its COVIDCare Plus program, which includes an FDA-authorized COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit and additional services such as vaccine clinics, telehealth, and screening programs for personalized health management.
Kroger joins a number of other retailers such as Walmart, Giant Food, Stop & Shop, Save Mart and Wegmans to launch flu shot awareness campaigns. Last week, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) debuted a new campaign stressing that flu vaccinations are essential to protect public health and to prevent an overrun of the healthcare system due to the dual threat of flu and COVID-19, as supermarket pharmacies nationwide are ramping up their flu vaccination programs.
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