Cvs caremark offers $5 million in free flu vaccinations to uninsured individuals

Cvs caremark offers $5 million in free flu vaccinations to uninsured individuals

CVS Caremark and Direct Relief USA have joined forces to offer $5 million in free flu vaccinations to community clinic and health center patients who have no health insurance coverage. CVS Caremark informs that the shots are currently available at all its CVS pharmacies and MinuteClinics throughout the USA. The company says free flu-shot vouchers will be distributed by CVS Caremark and Direct Relief USA to participating medical centers.

Participating clinics and health centers will identify uninsured people from their current patient populations, and provide as many as possible with a free flu shot voucher.

Larry Merlo, President and COO, CVS Caremark, said:

With every CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic location providing flu vaccinations this year, we want to make sure that as many people as possible have access to a flu shot, including patients for whom cost may be a barrier. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that everyone receive a flu shot this year. We are pleased to partner with Direct Relief USA to help accomplish that goal.

Thomas Tighe, President and CEO of Direct Relief, said:

Direct Relief USA is delighted to partner with CVS Caremark to help protect thousands of people who are in a tough financial situation with a free flu shot this season. The network we've built in collaboration with community health centers and clinics nationwide enables CVS Caremark's generous contribution to reach people who need help in a very efficient way. CVS Caremark is demonstrating great leadership by addressing an annual public-health risk.

National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) Senior VP, Malvise Scott, said:

We appreciate CVS Caremark's free flu shot donation to uninsured patients of community health centers. This is certainly an example of a partnership that provides support for safety net providers and the patients they serve.

The flu shots will be available for uninsured individuals at participating community clinic and health centers for existing patients from September 20th, 2010. On that date names and locations of participating clinics will be made available.

According to various US media sources, Walgreen, which currently retails its flu shots at $29.99, will give away free flu-shot vouchers for up to $1 million.

The flu (influenza) is a highly contagious respiratory illness. It is caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, in some rare cases it may lead to death. Elderly individuals, very young children, patients with certain health conditions, as well as those with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to developing flu complications.

Flu complications may include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

Most experts say that the flu virus spreads principally by droplets made when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of nearby people. Much more rarely, but also possible, a person can become infected by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it, and then touching their nose, eyes or mouth.

The best way to prevent the flu is by receiving the flu vaccination (flu shot) each year, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Last year a new and fairly different flu virus spread worldwide, called 2009 H1N1, informally known as swine flu. The CDC expects the 2009 H1N1 to spread again and cause illness, along with other influenza viruses. US authorities, including the HSS (Department of Health and Human Services) and the CDC stress that the current 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against 2009 H1N1 and two other influenza viruses.

Sources: CVS Caremark, Associated Press, CDC.

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