Walgreens: Flu index shows flu activity is up nationwide 23 percent compared to 2020 season

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Today, Monday, Oct. 18 Walgreens launched 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.

“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.”

Top 10 DMAs with Flu Activity

  1. Las Vegas
  2. El Paso, Texas
  3. Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas
  4. Tyler-Longview, Texas
  5. Montgomery-Selma, Ala.
  6. Columbus-Tupelo-West Point-Houston, Miss.
  7. Knoxville, Tenn.
  8. Corpus Christi, Texas
  9. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas
  10. Youngstown, Ohio

Top 10 States with Flu Activity

  1. Nevada
  2. Mississippi
  3. Texas
  4. New Mexico
  5. Tennessee
  6. Washington, D.C.
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Louisiana
  9. Alabama
  10. Alaska

Through the time lapse feature of the Walgreens Flu Index, users can see how current flu activity compares to activity from last season.

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