As flu season approaches in Southeast Asia, Walgreens (NYSE, NASDAQ: WAG) today announced a donation of 375,000 doses of seasonal flu vaccine to Lao People’s Democratic Republic (referred to as Lao PDR or Laos). The Lao PDR Ministry of Health (Lao MOH) was selected to receive the vaccine based on longstanding collaborations between the Lao MOH, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as Walgreens objective to provide vaccine to a population in need. “This is an example of the potential value of collaboration between public health and private organizations,” said Dr. Joe Bresee, chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in CDC’s Influenza Division. “Influenza vaccination is an important tool to reduce respiratory disease in Laos, particularly among people who are at risk for serious flu complications including pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic health conditions. We’re excited to help make this happen.” Walgreens, which provides more flu vaccine in the United States each year than any other retailer, drugstore chain or U.S. corporation, has worked with the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help increase the number of people vaccinated against influenza in underserved communities across America. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, visited a Chicago area Walgreens this season to get her seasonal flu shot from one of its pharmacists. HHS also assisted Walgreens in the distribution of seasonal flu vaccine vouchers in select markets throughout the country the last two years, which provided free flu vaccinations for the uninsured and underinsured. Lao PDR health officials have designated the 375,000 doses of donated flu vaccine for people at high risk of flu complications in that country, including pregnant women, seniors and people with chronic health conditions such as heart and lung disease. The Walgreens donation was the result of a unique CDC-facilitated collaboration between Walgreens and the Lao MOH.
“In recent years, going back to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, we’ve demonstrated the positive impact we can have by helping to increase flu vaccination coverage while working together with government and health officials at every level,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. “As flu season winds down here in the United States, we’re pleased to provide vaccine to the people of Laos and to work with the Ministry of Health to help launch its seasonal flu vaccination effort.”Laos has a population of more than 6.7 million people, and during the 2009-2010 flu pandemic more than 1 million people were vaccinated against 2009 H1N1; however, the country currently does not have an ongoing seasonal flu vaccination program. “The Ministry of Health in Laos has worked collaboratively with CDC and WHO to establish the infrastructure to implement this seasonal flu vaccination campaign. They are ready, and on April 24 the country will launch the vaccination campaign across Laos with the donated vaccine from Walgreens,” said Bresee. The donated seasonal flu vaccine was shipped to Laos via UPS (NYSE:UPS), which provided the PharmaPort™360 air freight containers needed to keep the vaccine at the precise temperature and monitor the shipment throughout its five-day, 9,000-mile transport from UPS’s healthcare facility in the United States. About Walgreens As the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2011 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens ( www.walgreens.com) vision is to become America’s first choice for health and daily living. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. The company operates 7,847 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.