To provide greater access to flu vaccines, Kroger has implemented new digital tools and and opened drive-thru Flu Shot Centers in 19 regions.
Kroger has launched a new and comprehensive flu shot program designed to be the leader among food retailers when it comes to vaccinations this autumn and winter.
Kroger's new program includes touchless in-store appointments and drive-thru vaccinations at 19 community Flu Shot Centers across the country – both of which can be booked online. Kroger Health will also provide on-site flu shot programs for businesses and organizations.
"With so many health facilities already overburdened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for all Americans to get a flu shot," said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health. "At our COVID-19 drive-thru test sites, we were able to assist thousands of people in getting a test in a short amount of time. By using that model to provide flu shots, we hope to provide more customers with a safe, convenient option to get vaccinated."
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that during an average flu season, 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from the flu, with an average of 500,000 flu-related hospitalizations. Since March, more than 370,000 Americans have already been hospitalized as a result of COVID-19, marking the potential for a significant burden on the already taxed health care system. In addition, according to symptom lists published by the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu are similar, which may create the potential for confusion, anxiety and loss of productivity as schools and businesses work through their COVID-19 plans and protocols.
"It will be very difficult for people to determine the difference between flu symptoms and COVID-19," said Doug Cornelius, health and wellness director for Kroger Health. "That's why it's so important for Americans to get a flu shot this year. It not only has been proven to help protect against the flu, but may also help reduce misidentification as COVID-19."
To receive a flu shot, customers and associates can make an appointment online at krogerhealth.com/flu. They can also complete their pre-visit paperwork online to reduce contact and promote physical distancing, and many insurance companies cover the flu shot with no co-pay. Flu shots will be administered at all of Kroger Health's 2,200 pharmacies and 223 clinics (called The Little Clinic) across 35 states, in addition to larger venues such as the Ohio State Fairgrounds and Expo Center, the Salem (Virginia) Civic Center, and the Indianapolis Zoo. Additional drive-thru Flu Shot Centers will open in various locations across 19 regions over the next several weeks.
Companies and other organizations also have the option to work with Kroger Health to set up vaccine clinics for their members. Flu shot events can be held on site with flu shots administered by Kroger Health pharmacists or nurse practitioners. Kroger Health is also helping employers address both COVID-19 and flu via its COVIDCare Plus program, which includes an FDA-authorized COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit and additional services such as vaccine clinics, telehealth, and screening programs for personalized health management.
The move from Kroger comes a week after Albertsons Cos. announced it's expanding immunizations to serve children as young as 3 years old.
Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,757 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food retailers in the United States.