Military Connection: VA Teams with Walgreens: By Debbie Gregory

VA and walgreensOn Thursday, October 2, 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a partnership with pharmacy retailer Walgreens that will result in greater access to CDC-recommended vaccinations for Veterans across the country. The alliance between the VA and Walgreens stemmed from a pilot program that began in Florida, designed to provide flu vaccines to Veterans throughout the state.  Due to the success of that program, the VA is expanding the program nationwide.

Headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, Walgreens currently has 8,217 locations across the country. Through the expanded VA program, the pharmacy chain will offer flu shots and other recommended vaccinations to Veterans and their dependents eligible for VA healthcare. After Walgreens’ pharmacists administer the vaccinations, they can access the eHealth Exchange through its Cloud Electronic Health Records platform, securely sharing the immunization records with the VA. This will ensure the patient medical records are complete and current.

“VA is proud to partner with Walgreens to provide needed vaccines to our nation’s Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “This partnership is a great example of how government and the private sector can work together to effectively and efficiently provide Veterans the care and benefits that they’ve earned.”

Vaccinations will be available for Veterans at Walgreens daily during pharmacy hours, with no appointment necessary. The provision of vaccinations at outside sources will do much to ensure that more Veterans are receiving the necessary immunizations. With all of the VA medical facilities working at capacity, this program will also help to alleviate the strain on VA wait times. All around, it’s a great idea.

“Walgreens is committed to supporting our Veterans, and we are proud to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide convenient access to vaccines,” said Walgreens President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Wasson. “This is an excellent opportunity for our pharmacists to help VA educate Veterans about the importance of vaccinations, to improve immunization rates through greater access and to contribute to helping veterans get, stay and live well.”

The partnership between the VA and Walgreens provides Veterans with a more convenient way to get their vaccinations in their own neighborhoods, without the VA lines and forms. Through this program, the Veterans’ patient records are integrated, and the VA will be able to maintain a complete immunization record.

Vaccines at Walgreens are subject to availability and certain restrictions may apply. Many immunizations may be covered by commercial insurance plans, Medicare Part B or Medicare Part D. As part of this agreement, VA funding can provide approximately 75,000 flu shots for enrolled Veterans. Patients are encouraged to check their health plan for specific coverage details.

For more information about VA’s immunization program, visit http://www.ehealth.va.gov/Immunization.asp

To find the nearest Walgreens, visit www.walgreens.com.

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Military Connection: VA Teams with Walgreens: By Debbie Gregory