Aug. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. drugstore chains Walgreens and CVS said Monday they're undertaking early efforts to encourage Americans to get their flu shots -- due to an increased risk of harm this year due to COVID-19.
Walgreens said Monday flu shots are now available at its U.S. locations and CVS Health said it plans to double up supplies.
Walgreens said vaccinations can be done at nearly 9,100 locations, which are operating under heightened safety protocols.
The retailer said manufacturers are making extra flu vaccine doses available to meet the anticipated demand for flu shots this season.
"The convergence of COVID-19 and flu season means that flu vaccinations are critical," Walgreens Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Ban said in a statement.
"[It] is one more thing we know everyone can do to help keep themselves and their loved ones healthy."
CVS, which also has flu doses in stock now, said it expects to administer as many as 18 million flu vaccinations -- twice the volume in 2019.
"It's going to be difficult to tell the difference between the seasonal flu and COVID-19 so protection against one is important," CVS CEO Larry Merlo said. "If you think you're just going to power through it because you think it's the seasonal flu, you're going to have a difficult time."
The CDC says flu season typically spans from fall until spring and can begin as early as October. Some flu seasons have lasted until May. The agency recommends flu shots for all persons at least 6 months old.