Off-hours vaccination at Walgreens shows importance of expanded convenience

More than one-third of adults who receive immunizations at Walgreens do so during weekend, evening and holiday hours, according to a study recently published in Annals of Family Medicine.

The study, which was conducted by Walgreens in collaboration with the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, demonstrated that Walgreens pharmacies are giving individuals new opportunities for vaccinations that could drive up immunization rates in the U.S.

The study analyzed the more than six million flu shots administered by Walgreens pharmacies between August 2011 and July 2012. The patients who were most likely to receive vaccinations during the off-hour times were younger males in urban areas without chronic conditions, representing groups with historically lower vaccination rates.

"This study clearly underscores the valuable role that our community pharmacies can play in providing greater access to vaccines, which can be a key contributor to better immunization rates," Study Author Michael Taitel said. "In addition to flu shots, Walgreens pharmacies in most states offer a full range of 17 vaccines recommended by the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). By offering vaccinations every day and in many stores 24 hours a day with no appointment necessary, we're helping more people get stay and live well."

According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, approximately 50,000 adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S. every year. The CDC recommends that everyone above the age of six months receive a flu vaccine. Adult influenza vaccination rates average approximately 40 percent.

"This research coupled with the existing literature supports that expanded off-clinic vaccination offerings could measurably increase immunization rates in the U.S.," Jeffrey Goad, the study's lead author, said. "It also suggests that the positive impact could be even more significant if the ability of pharmacists to administer all CDC recommended vaccines as well as Food and Drug Administration approved travel vaccines was expanded in all states."