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U.S. pharmacies, drugmakers ramping up over Fears of coronavirus second wave


Nurse Holding a Vaccine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. pharmacy chains are preparing a big push for flu vaccinations when the season kicks off in October, hoping to curb tens of thousands of serious cases that could coincide with a second wave of coronavirus infections.

CVS Health Corp (CVS.N), one of the largest U.S. pharmacies, said it is working to ensure it has vaccine doses available for an anticipated surge in customers seeking shots to protect against seasonal influenza.


Rival chain Rite Aid Corp (RAD.N) has ordered 40 percent more vaccine doses to meet the expected demand. Walmart Inc (WMT.N) and Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA.O) said they also are expecting more Americans to seek these shots.


Drugmakers are ramping up to meet the demand. Australian vaccine maker CSL Ltd’s (CSL.AX) Seqirus said demand from customers has increased by 10 percent. British-based GlaxoSmithKline (GLAX.NS) said it is ready to increase manufacturing as needed.

Pharmacy shares rose in Tuesday trading, with CVS up 2.5% and Rite Aid and Walgreens up 4.5%.


A Reuters/Ipsos poll of 4,428 adults conducted May 13-19 found that about 60 percent of U.S. adults plan to get the flu vaccine in the fall. Typically fewer than half of Americans get vaccinated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the vaccine for everyone over age 6 months.


Getting a flu shot does not protect against COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus for which there are no approved vaccines. Public health officials have said vaccination against the flu will be critical to help prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with flu and COVID-19 patients.


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