Fighting Swine Flu The Wal-Mart Way (WMT, AZN, GSK, NOVN, SNY)

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You can just see the TV advertisements now… Wal-Mart and Uncle Sam are “rolling back” swine flu.

The retailer is in talks with federal officials about possibly putting vaccination sites in its stores this fall. It’s a smart idea that should boost Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s (NYSE: WMT) foot traffic, and give the federal government a fighting chance to reach aggressive its inoculation goals, especially in children.

The government has failed rather miserably in coaxing parents to get vaccinated against other illnesses. Only about 15 percent of kids get all their recommended shots, one of the main reasons why worries that there will not be enough swine flu vaccine to go around this fall likely are overblown.

It’s one of the reasons why companies not named AstraZeneca plc (NYSE: AZN), GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK), Novartis AG (Nasdaq: NOVN), Sanofi-Aventis SA (NYSE: SNY) and Australia’s CSL Ltd. might not see any business from providing swine flu vaccines this season.

About 140 million people shop at Wal-Mart each week. A deal with the retailer could certainly help the government reach its goal of getting about 159 million people the vaccination this fall, especially young children that CDC officials also want to see get a regular flu shot.

There’s been no talk of pricing yet, but count on Wal-Mart to make price a fixture of any outreach. Don’t be surprised if there are 2-for-1 specials for families, and special deals for kids that also get a regular flu shot.

Mike Tarsala

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