As fall approaches, VA health care providers are preparing their annual fight against influenza. “Flu teams” are busy putting up posters, sending out notices and printing handouts that promote a common message – flu infection is serious and that Veteran patients and VA staff should get a flu shot. Because receiving an annual vaccination is widely recognized as the best method for preventing disease and death related to influenza, VA orders almost two million doses of flu vaccine annually to be administered at VA medical centers and community based outpatient clinics.

Flu shots are the cornerstone of prevention efforts and are provided at no cost. In addition to vaccination, it’s also important to educate the VA community of the importance of hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and of course, staying home when sick.

This flu season VHA has again teamed up with national retail pharmacy Walgreens to provide no-cost quadrivalent flu vaccinations for enrolled Veterans through the VA Retail Immunization Care Coordination Program. This partnership offered greater access to flu vaccine, and as a result more than 70,000 Veteran patients received flu shots at a local Walgreens last year.  We expect even more will this year. The partnership between VA and Walgreens continues to grow and the current vaccination period is now through March 31, 2018.

All Veterans who are currently enrolled in VA care may walk into any of the over 8,000 Walgreens nationally and the Duane Reade pharmacies in the New York metropolitan area to receive a vaccination at no cost. After presenting a Veterans identification card and a photo ID, a Walgreens pharmacist administers the vaccine and transmits that information securely to VA where it becomes part of the patient’s electronic medical record.

This program has been especially beneficial to enrolled Veterans who live in rural areas. Because many may live at greater distances from VA medical facilities, the Walgreens partnership provides increased access to no cost flu vaccinations. Last year 45 percent of the VA patients who received a flu shot at Walgreens were classified as rural or highly rural by the VA zip code map.

VA is committed to keeping Veteran patients healthy, and during flu season vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of flu. No matter where you live, visit your local VA clinic or Walgreens to get a no-cost quadrivalent flu shot.

About the author:  This article was submitted to VAntage Point by the Veterans Health Administration Office of Community Care.

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Published on Sep. 12, 2017

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  1. Antero Santiago Cortes October 9, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Since today is 9 October 2017 (Columbus Day), and my nearest VA facility, 25 miles away, is closed today, I went to my local Walgreen’s pharmacy (15 N. Buffalo Grove Rd., Buffalo Grove, IL 60089) to request a free flu shot. I presented my Department of Veterans Affairs ID with my picture, name and a magnetic strip, as well as my State of Illinois drivers license with my picture on it.

    For whatever reason, they could not find/identify me in their system for eligibility. I called the VA at my primary care number for Dr. Iftikhar at 224-610-3871, and was forwarded to an administrative person to whom I explained my situation at Walgreen’s. She couldn’t answer my question, but took my number as well as the Walgreen’s pharmacy’s. She consulted with whomever was available to her, also called and spoke with the Walgreen’s where I had gone, and called me back. Her response was that the VA’s contract with Walgreen’s had expired. She apologized for the inconvenience, and reminded me that I could still get my free flu shot at the VA, and the times and circumstances under which I could do so (walk-in, schedule, etc.). I thanked her.

    After researching online some more, I am confused, because I keep encountering sites such as this one, which indicate that I (veterans) can still go to Walgreen’s until March 2018. What’s the real story, and what did I/am I doing wrong?

  2. pam October 6, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Walgreens is telling veterans they cannot receive the high dose at their pharmacy only the regular standard shot is the free one offered to veterans from Walgreens for 2017

  3. William Dumsick September 19, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    There are 2 types of shots, the standard shot and the shot for critical people or over the age of 55.
    In the past years Walgreens didn’t give the more critical shot for VA patients free. Has this change for 2017?
    If not, why not?

  4. George Curry September 15, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Is this the same flu vaccine that you would get at the VA? and not a vaccine that does not afford you the full strain given at the local clinic/hospitals?

  5. Richard Allen White September 15, 2017 at 10:56 am

    I’m finding it difficult to obtain a PCP. Diagnosed 100% PTSD disabled in July of 2016, I have almost given up trying to get a doctor just for the simple maintenance of health issues and illness prevention. Recommendations?

    • John Smith September 15, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      All that you need to do to get a PCM is to contact you local VA clinic/Hospital and request an appointment. Your VA rep can also help

Comments are closed.

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