Walgreens donates 35,000 flu vaccine doses to PAHO

Walgreens announced on Monday that it provided 35,000 doses of flu vaccine to the Pan American Health Organization for use in at-risk populations in Nicaragua and Laos.

The donation builds on a public-private partnership between Walgreens, PAHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The collaborative effort is meant to help the countries develop or expand their programs for vaccination.

Walgreens previously collaborated with the CDC and the World Health Organization in 2012 to provide flu vaccine doses to Laos. More than 90 percent of the donated vaccine doses were administered over a two-week period.

"Last year's success was an example of what public-private partnerships can accomplish," Joseph Bresee, the chief of the epidemiology and prevention branch in CDC's Influenza Division, said. "This year this partnership has been able to expand further with new donors and new partner countries. Because of this people at risk for severe influenza will be protected for the first time."

This year's campaign will primarily focus on populations identified as high risk for flu complications, such as pregnant women. The collaboration will also guide Uganda in establishing a future program for influenza vaccination.

"Flu shots and adult immunizations are a great example of how we're transforming the role of community pharmacy and through this donation we hope to help improve immunization rates among more populations in need in other parts of the world," Kermit Crawford, the president of pharmacy health and wellness for Walgreens, said. "Flu arrived earlier and was more severe in the U.S. this past season. By collaborating with government and health officials we've had an opportunity to create greater access to vaccine in underserved communities across America and this effort furthers our mission to help more people get stay and live well."

Walgreens is the largest retail provider of flu shots in the nation. The company donated $10 million worth of seasonal flu vaccine vouchers this past flu season to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to increase immunization rates in underserved populations.