CHICAGO and DEERFIELD, Ill. – With more than 40 million Americans expected to travel this holiday season, Orbitz Worldwide and Walgreens today launched a year-long initiative to help keep travelers healthy. As part of today’s announcement, the two companies released the results of a new poll that found 25 percent of holiday travelers surveyed have had travel plans interrupted by unexpected illness.
The poll also found that while more than a third (36 percent) of travelers say they’ve gotten a flu shot this season, nearly half (44 percent) don’t plan to get one.
“This reinforces the need to educate travelers about important yet easy steps they can take to stay healthy during the holiday travel season,” said Cheryl Pegus, Walgreens chief medical officer. “As travelers place a growing emphasis on health and wellness, we’ll provide the resources and information to help them stay well throughout the year.”
Under the partnership, Orbitz and Walgreens will also work together on cross-promotional marketing programs, offering exclusive travel discounts and deals to Walgreens customers, and will highlight consumer research and educational campaigns focused on being a healthy traveler.
“This partnership will help improve the holistic travel experience for individuals and families, first focusing on raising awareness for our customers about preventive health care measures that can help make for a happy holiday,” said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior travel editor of Orbitz.com. “A major underlying goal is to further educate and inform travelers and encourage them to be proactive about seeking advice from health care experts about how they can maintain a healthy lifestyle during the holidays.”
Orbitz and Walgreens Holiday Travel Study
The poll released today shows results from 1,000 consumers, and included questions related to the importance of preventive health measures, such as flu shots, to travelers.
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Nearly two-thirds of all respondents (59 percent) feel travel isn’t a factor in impacting their health, however the remaining 41 percent believe that it does increase their chances of getting sick.
The most common preventive measure people take to stay healthy while traveling over the holidays is to wash hands frequently and/or use sanitizers (58 percent). Getting a flu shot is second most common, with 29 percent who say they get one as a practice. Not over-eating was the least common response.
Of travelers surveyed who haven’t received a flu shot, 52 percent said they don’t believe they’re effective and 26 percent said they’re afraid it may actually give them the flu. Note: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other national health authorities, a person cannot get the flu from an injectable flu shot.
Conversely, of the respondents that have gotten or plan to get a flu shot this season, 75 percent said their primary reason for doing so was as a “general precaution during the colder fall and winter months.” Nearly 15 percent got a flu shot because they are traveling over the holidays or they have children at home.
The survey found that of respondents with health insurance, 61 percent said that flu shots are covered as a benefit under their insurance plan. Nearly one-in-five (18 percent) said they don’t know whether flu shots are covered.
“This is an important time for flu shots and prevention because flu season peaks in January and February nearly 70 percent of the time,” Pegus added. “These are the coldest months and they also happen to come right on the heels of the upcoming holidays.”
Pegus suggests the following measures for travelers to stay healthy through the holidays:
Get a seasonal flu shot
Wash hands frequently using soap and water or an alcohol-based rub
Don’t touch your eyes, hands or mouth when hands haven’t been washed
Get enough sleep – Annals of Medicine studies show those who get fewer than seven hours of sleep are three times more likely to develop a cold when exposed to the virus
Eat right and exercise regularly
Moving forward, Orbitz and Walgreens will continue to work together on quarterly initiatives to promote healthy travel lifestyles such as the recent holiday travel survey. Additionally, Walgreens customers will receive exclusive hotel and travel deals available through Orbitz.com. In turn, Orbitz customers will benefit from special offers on products and services at Walgreens 7,600 locations. Both companies will support the program with cross-promotional brand visibility, educational outreach to customers and ongoing publicity efforts throughout 2011.