Wal-Mart weighs role in U.S. H1N1 vaccination plans
Thu Jul 30, 2009
By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc is discussing with U.S. health officials the possibility of putting vaccination sites at some of its stores for an H1N1 swine flu inoculation campaign this fall, a company official said on Thursday.
Federal officials met with Wal-Mart executives on Wednesday in Arkansas to discuss the issue, Dr. John Agwunobi, president of health and wellness for Wal-Mart U.S., told public health leaders at a conference in Orlando.
"We are in discussions with CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and others in local and state departments to see what role we might play," Agwunobi said. "It might be we are a site. It may be help with logistics and with supply chain."
Agwunobi said 140 million people walk through the doors of its 4,000 U.S. stores each week.
U.S. health advisers have said about half the U.S. population should be vaccinated against H1N1 influenza. Up to 160 million doses of flu vaccine will be available for the start of the campaign in mid-October.
The H1N1 swine flu, characterized by mild symptoms in most patients, is now so widespread that the World Health Organization has stopped counting cases.
Speaking at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) annual conference, Agwunobi also said Wal-Mart is planning to be a site this fall for seasonal flu vaccinations, administered by a third-party, at stores in most parts of the country.