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Flu Shots Back on Track

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Flu season is upon us once again, and unlike last year there’s no shortage of vaccines this time around. This means everyone who can get one should get one — especially if you ride the F train every day with yours truly — and that supermarkets offering them can breathe easier knowing their supplies won’t run out.

flushot.jpgRetailers can’t get complacent, however, since there’s plenty of competition out there. Just as Kroger, Publix and other grocery stores have added clinic capabilities to their stores, so too have discounters and pharmacies and a host of other companies and organizations. In one of the more interesting examples, health officials in Cape May, New Jersey, recently organized a drive-through clinic where people drive up, stick and arm out, and feel the burn.

So what to do? Supermarkets have the advantage of being able to add to their one-stop shopping experience. Grab a prepared meal for dinner, or groceries for the week — and oh, hey, why not get vaccinated while you’re at it?

But it seems they’re not getting the word out. A quick scan of a dozen retailer websites show many of the same old headline promotions: coupons, loyalty cards, employee of the month, and so on. Yawn. C’mon, this is flu season! Do like Duane Reade pharmacy here in New York does and let shoppers know on your homepage as well as in stores that you’re giving vaccinations at a decent price. Be colorful, playful and, okay, even irreverent. The city health department here is running a series of ads on subway trains with phrases like “The flu just got off at the last stop”.

There’s been a bit of controversy in the past over treating patients outside of the doctor’s office. That’s blown over, however, as now many physicians and medical associations praise grocery stores and other locations for making vaccines more widely available.

When you come down to it, flu shots are trust builders. If it’s an existing customer, you’re reinforcing your company’s image as a provider of convenient health solutions. With a new customer, you’re drawing them into the store, and quite possibly building loyalty that will result in many more trips.

Just make sure to give them a lollipop when it’s over to seal the deal.

(Creative Commons photo by alvi2047)

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