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CVS, Walgreens flu shots begin: Pharmacists take COVID-19 precautions


Approving a vaccine in the U.S. usually takes years, but COVID-19 vaccines are moving through in record time. What does that mean?


Walgreens and CVS pharmacists plan to check patient temperatures and wear face shields for the first time when delivering flu vaccines.

The nation’s two largest drugstore chains are now offering the seasonal influenza vaccine with new precautionary measures.

The rollout comes amid swirling concerns about the collision of the COVID-19 pandemic with the flu season, which is expected to strain the health care system.

“Prior to administration of an immunization, pharmacy team members will take patients’ temperature and screen for the presence of symptoms or illness. Immunizations will be deferred if a patient has a fever or other symptoms associated with illness until after symptoms are resolved,” Walgreens said in a statement.

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CVS will also conduct temperature checks, ask about COVID-19 symptoms and require pharmacists to wear face shields when giving the vaccine.

CVS expects to administer more than double the number of flu shots it administers during a typical season, spokesperson Matthew Blanchette said in an email.

Walgreens is expecting an increase in flu demand ranging from 30% to 50%, said Rina Shah, the company’s group vice president of pharmacy and operations.

“We’re prepared to support that demand,” she said in an interview.

Patients at both chains will be encouraged but not required to set up an appointment and complete paperwork in advance, both through each company’s app or website. They are also required to wear masks during the vaccination and while shopping in the store.

CVS and Walgreens will also disinfect surfaces between every patient to protect people from COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people over the age of 6 months get the flu shot. Walgreens administers the shot for anyone over age 4.

Most insurance plans cover the flu shot for free.

Looking ahead to potential COVID-19 vaccines, Shah said Walgreens is also prepared to offer them if and when one or more are available.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

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