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Grocers take a shot at providing flu vaccine

Along with groceries, customers are now able to get their yearly flu shot at the supermarket

Now that pharmacists in several provinces across Canada are able to administer flu shots, more and more grocers are tapping into an opportunity to give customers yet another reason to visit the grocery store.

Dean Miller, vice-president of pharmacy operations at Loblaw Companies, says offering the flu shot at 365 pharmacies in all of Loblaw’s banner stores, makes it “easy and convenient” for customers to stay healthy during the flu season.

“At Loblaw, one of our five principles of corporate social responsibility is to make a positive difference in our community and that means we are committed to offering our customers a variety of products, programs and services in the areas of both nutrition and health,” he said. “We know that a great way people can help protect themselves against influenza is by getting the flu shot.”

With Loblaw’s recent acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation this focus on customer health should be even more prevalent.

Tammy Smitham, a spokesperson for the pharmacy chain, says there are 1,000 Shoppers across Canada certified to provide flu shots this year. “Patients do see the value of getting this service at the pharmacy and it goes back to convenience,” she said, adding that a lot of the patients using the service are families who can get their immunizations all at the same time. “Plus we are seeing new people come to store that haven’t come before.”

Longo's has also been offering flu clinics for several years through licensed practitioners, but this will be the first time that their in-store pharmacists at all 11 Morelli’s pharmacy locations will be providing the service themselves. “Our pharmacies are committed to continuing to make flu shots available to our customers this year through our in-store flu shot clinics,” said Longo’s category manager Mary-Ellen Schick, adding that the service is available as a walk-in or “on demand” service as needed.

Nova Scotia is the latest province to grant pharmacists the authority to provide injections, joining B.C., Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario. Last year, pharmacists at nearly 600 Ontario pharmacies gave almost 250,000 flu shots and this year close to 2,000 corporate and independent pharmacies in the province are registered to administer the influenza vaccines.

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