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With the onset of the flu epidemic in the U.S., Jewel Osco, the supermarket chain under Supervalu Inc. (SVU - Analyst Report), has stocked almost 7,000 additional doses of the flu vaccine in its pharmacies.

The vaccines are scheduled to be delivered from Tuesday, Jan 15. These additional vaccines will be supplied to 170 Jewel Osco pharmacies.

Traditional flu vaccines, needle-free FluMist nasal spray, Fluzone and the Fluzone HD for patients aged 65 and above will be available at Supervalu Pharmacies. The pharmacies will administer these flu shots on a walk-in basis during regular working hours.

The flu has reportedly attacked a month earlier than usual and has spread across all except three states in the U.S.The states which did not report widespread flu are California, Mississippi and Hawaii.

Flu vaccinations, though not fully effective, are recommended for everyone. Though there is no guarantee that the vaccine will completely prevent the onset of flu, it has been found to be effective 62% of the time. Since the swine flu epidemic in 2009, vaccination rates have increased in the U.S.

Supervalu Pharmacies  is spread over 800 locations in 25 states and operates under 10 retail brands, namely Acme Sav-on Pharmacy, Albertsons Sav-on Pharmacy, Albertsons Osco Pharmacy, Cub Pharmacy, Farm Fresh Pharmacy, Jewel-Osco Pharmacy, Shaw’s Osco Pharmacy, Shop ‘n Save Pharmacy, Shop ‘n Save Osco Pharmacy and Shoppers Pharmacy.

Supervalu Pharmacies has been offering adult immunizations since 2000. Apart from administering flu vaccines, Supervalu pharmacy locations also provide immunizations for influenza, pneumococcal disease, tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, cervical cancer, shingles and meningococcal meningitis.

The retail chain also has travel vaccine clinics where customers are immunized before traveling to other nations.

The vaccination program is expected to boost sales in the current quarter, especially since it is strongly recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Supervalu posted third quarter fiscal 2013 adjusted earnings per share of 3 cents, lower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 6 cents and the comparable prior-year quarter earnings of 24 cents a share.

The lower-than-expected results were due to the disappointing same store sales during the quarter and reduced discretionary spending by consumers in the U.S. due to ongoing economic challenges.

Supervalu operates in a highly-competitive market where price competition limits margin expansion. Additionally, labor unions that have caused havoc at retail chains like Wal-Mart (WMT) can also be a headwind for Supervalu.

Supervalu currently has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

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