Drugstore chains push for earlier flu shots

A flu shot sign hangs in a grocery store window in Chicago, Ill.

The week after Labor Day may seem early to be thinking about getting a flu shot, but the shots have been available for a few weeks and drugstore chains like Walgreens and CVS are already offering incentives. 

"It's mostly about getting people into the stores," said Frank Sloan, an economics professor at Duke University. He said vaccines are not big money-makers for pharmacies, but the consumers who get them are more likely than others to spend their money on health-related items they also need. 

"Traditionally the drugs have been sold at the back of the store," he said. "And the reason for that is to get you to walk through the store and see what else they have to sell." 

Regardless of the aim, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is happy to have the competition. 

"Probably the most important thing is just to get vaccinated," said the CDC's Lisa Grohskopf. "It's easier to get vaccine than it was before." 

The CDC estimates there will be about 135 million doses of the flu vaccine available this year.

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