Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced it will expand immunizations in more than 2,700 of its stores, a move analysts say will likely help the retailer grow its health care market share.
It’s no secret Wal-Mart continues to look for revenue opportunities and the health care sector is ripe for the picking. The retailer previously began offering a $4 generic drug program and Medicare prescription plan, which together comprised roughly 11% of the company’s $264 billion in U.S. sales last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“We are making it easy and affordable for our customers to receive their vaccinations – while on their normal shopping trips they can simply stop by immunization events, which will accept thousands of insurance plans and offer low price options for our cash paying customers,” said John Agwunobi, M.D., president of Walmart U.S. Health and Wellness.
A number of pharmacies, both locally owned and national chains, routinely give shots for shingles and the flu but Wal-Mart says it will be the first national retailer to have these shots administered to shoppers by registered nurses.
In collaboration with Mollen Immunization Clinics, ten of the CDC-recommended immunizations will be offered, including vaccinations for shingles and whooping cough, at events taking place from Aug. 27 through Nov. 15, according to a press release.
The flu vaccine and pneumonia vaccine will also be available at events in more than 3,800 Walmart store locations with a pharmacy. Flu shots at Walmart are available for $25. Based on the World Health Organization’s recommendations, this year’s flu shot will protect against the H1N1, H3N2 and influenza B virus strains.
The immunizations will be offered to anyone three years and older based on CDC and FDA guidelines. The retailer will also provide free blood pressure screenings at all immunization events in Walmart stores on Sept. 8, 15, 22 and 29.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many adults are not up-to-date with recommended life-saving immunizations. Vaccinations may not be top-of-mind while the weather is still warm, but they are a critical part of public health, especially in light of recent outbreaks of whooping cough and shingles,” Dr. Agwunobi, noted in the press release.
Wal-Mart says its cash paying customers will see a 37% savings over immunizations provided by other retail clinics. Customers can either make an appointment in advance or stop by the events during their regular shopping trips. Specific vaccination offerings will differ by store.