Today Walgreens launches its Walgreens Flu Index® for the 2021-2022 season to help communities track flu activity in their area and serve as a reminder to get an annual flu shot. Returning for its eighth season, the Walgreens Flu Index shows that to date, overall flu activity is 23% higher nationwide when compared to the 2020-2021 flu season.
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Returning for the eighth season, Walgreens Flu Index® helps communities track flu activity in their area and serves as a reminder to get an annual flu shot. (Graphic: Business Wire)
“The Walgreens Flu Index shows higher flu activity to date than what we saw last year during this same time, when we saw unprecedented low levels of flu due to people sheltering in place, wearing masks and record flu shots administered,” said Kevin Ban, chief medical officer, Walgreens. “It remains critically important to get vaccinated against the flu before it spreads in your community. With many regions loosening COVID mitigation efforts and people spending more time together in person, we may see an uptick in flu activity and our pharmacy team members are readily accessible to help you get vaccinated and address questions.”
During the week of Oct. 3, Las Vegas and Nevada topped the list of markets and states for flu activity. This may be attributed to Las Vegas being a top tourist destination in the U.S., as well as increased face-to-face interaction and reduced preventive measures in certain regions. Several Texas communities topped the list, with southern markets showing the most widespread flu activity this season. This is consistent with trends seen over the last two flu seasons.
It’s early in the flu season, and flu activity remains low compared to a normal flu season, but the Centers for Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend getting a flu shot by the end of October and before flu spreads in local communities.
Implications of the Walgreens Flu Index for Black and Brown Communities
According to the CDC, while flu vaccine uptake has increased for adults over the past three flu seasons, lower vaccination rates are evident among Black and Hispanic adults.1 Many southern regions showing incidences of flu also have large Black and Hispanic populations,2 communities that experience higher rates of flu hospitalization3 and are at higher risk for flu-related complications.4 The Walgreens Flu Index underscores that some of the communities hardest hit by flu are also the most vulnerable.
“COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and barriers to access are not an isolated issue. Many people share the same concerns when it comes to getting a flu shot, wondering if it is safe, if it works or if it is actually needed,” said Ban. “Walgreens is committed to breaking down barriers by meeting our patients where they are through off-site vaccination clinics and leaning into our thousands of pharmacists to help address patient questions based on their personal situation and concerns.”
Walgreens has a long history of collaborating with local churches and national civic groups to reach medically underserved and underrepresented communities with education, information and access to life-saving vaccines. Building on the Walgreens COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Initiative launched at the start of the pandemic, Walgreens continues to partner at the local level with community organizations and churches to host off-site clinics, educate on the importance of flu shots, and dispel common myths. In addition, as Walgreens has for the past decade, Walgreens distributes 200,000 flu vouchers annually to provide free flu immunizations for medically underserved populations that need them most.
Top 10 DMAs with Flu Activity
- Las Vegas
- El Paso, Texas
- Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas
- Tyler-Longview, Texas
- Montgomery-Selma, Ala.
- Columbus-Tupelo-West Point-Houston, Miss.
- Knoxville, Tenn.
- Corpus Christi, Texas
- Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas
- Youngstown, Ohio
Top 10 States with Flu Activity
- New Mexico
- Washington, D.C.
Through the time lapse feature of the Walgreens Flu Index®, users can see how current flu activity compares to activity from last season.
About Walgreens Flu Index®
The Walgreens Flu Index® is an online, interactive tool that ranks the top markets and states for flu activity in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, as well as the top markets and states showing the largest increases in flu activity week-over-week. Users can search by market or state to see where their geographic area ranks for flu activity in any given week, as well as how current flu activity compares to last season. On a weekly basis, we track the incremental change of antiviral medications used to treat influenza across thousands of Walgreens and Duane Reade locations nationwide to create the Walgreens Flu Index®.
The index is not intended to illustrate levels or severity of flu activity, but rather, based on this methodology, to show which populations are experiencing the highest incidence of influenza within the U.S. and Puerto Rico each week.
Flu Index® Frequency
The Walgreens Flu Index® is updated weekly each Tuesday and is available through an online, interactive map, linked here.
Behind the Methodology
Data for the Walgreens Flu Index® is analyzed at state and geographic market levels to measure absolute impact and incremental change of antiviral medications on a per store average basis, and does not include markets in which Walgreens has fewer than 10 retail locations. Low-high rankings are designated based on a normal flu season, defined by an average of the last five flu seasons nationwide. For example, red regions on the Walgreens Flu Index® map indicate a much higher than a normal flu season, while green regions indicate a much lower than normal flu season.
Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) is included in the United States segment of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA), a global leader in retail pharmacy. As America’s most loved pharmacy, health and beauty company, Walgreens purpose is to champion the health and well-being of every community in America. Operating more than 9,000 retail locations across America, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Walgreens is proud to be a neighborhood health destination serving approximately 8 million customers each day. Walgreens pharmacists play a critical role in the U.S. healthcare system by providing a wide range of pharmacy and healthcare services. To best meet the needs of customers and patients, Walgreens offers a true omnichannel experience, with platforms bringing together physical and digital, supported by the latest technology to deliver high-quality products and services in local communities nationwide.
1 Flu Vaccination Coverage, United States, 2020–21 Influenza Season | FluVaxView | Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC
2 Rising number of U.S. counties are majority Hispanic or black | Pew Research Center
3 Flu Disparities Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups | CDC
4 Flu Disparities Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups | CDC