CVS Caremark (Stock Quote: CVS) announced Wednesday it will partner with Direct Relief USA to offer $5 million in free flu shots to community clinic and health center patients lacking health insurance.
Vouchers redeemable for a free flu shot at any CVS location will be distributed to participating clinics and health centers that work with Direct Relief USA. The nonprofit organiziation already provides medications and supplies to 1,100 free clinics and health centers nationwide.
These facilities will in turn identify uninsured individuals from their existing patient populations and provide them with the free flu shot voucher beginning on Sept. 20. The names and locations of participating clinics will be formally released that day.
“We think [the program is] great because all of these clinics are struggling mightily due to the recession,” Thomas Tighe, CEO of Direct Relief USA, told MainStreet. Tighe explained that the donations financially “plug a hole” for patients who otherwise may not have been able to afford the $30 vaccination.
Back in February, the Centers for Disease Control recommended that all people six months and older should receive a flu vaccination during the 2010-2011 flu season. The year before, the CDC only advised that patients six months through 18 years and close contacts of these higher risk persons get vaccinated.
Last year, two separate immunizations were offered: one that protected against seasonal flu and another for the H1N1 strain. This year, an all-in-one shot will be offered, but as Tighe points out, it is more expensive. Tighe expects the voucher program to provide more than 170,000 uninsured individuals with the vaccination.