Kaiser Health News
The pharmacy chain pitches started in August: Come in and get your flu shot.
Convenience is touted. So are incentives: CVS offers a 20-percent-off shopping pass for everyone who gets a shot, while Walgreens donates toward international vaccination efforts.
The start of flu season is still weeks — if not months — away. Yet marketing of the vaccine has become an almost year-round effort, beginning when the shots become available in August and hyped as long as the supply lasts, often into April or May.
It’s unclear how long the immunity imparted by the vaccine lasts, particularly in older people.
Not that long ago, most flu-shot campaigns started as the leaves began to turn in October. But the rise of retail medical clinics inside drug stores over the past decade — and state laws allowing pharmacists to give vaccinations — has stretched the flu-shot season.
The stores have figured out how “to deliver medical services in an on-demand way” which appeals to customers, particularly millennials, said Tom Charland, founder and CEO of Merchant Medicine, which tracks the walk-in clinic industry. “It’s a way to get people into the store to buy other things.”
But some experts say the marketing may be overtaking medical wisdom since it’s unclear how long the immunity imparted by the vaccine lasts, particularly in older people. [Read more…]