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11 Hidden Perks at Your Local Pharmacy

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Think pharmacies are only about antibiotics and condoms? Think again.

You can get vaccinations, blood pressure readings, specially packaged medications and many other perks. In some cities you can even see a doctor in the drugstore. How convenient is that if it turns out you need a prescription?

Here’s an all-too-typical scenario: Your child wakes up Saturday with a sore throat and fever. The family doctor doesn’t work on weekends. Can you get Junior to a doctor?

You probably can if you live in a city with …

1. Walk-in Clinics at the Drugstore

Some pharmacies offer non-urgent care through setups like MinuteClinic or Take Care Health Services. Such clinics tend to operate seven days a week, which is great for illnesses and minor mishaps that happen on a Saturday or Sunday. As noted, you can’t beat the convenience factor if you need to fill a prescription.

When flu season rolls around or when you want some other kind of vaccination, do you need to pay for a doctor’s appointment just to get a shot? Maybe not, since many pharmacies offer…

2. Flu Shots & Vaccinations

Pharmacies routinely offer flu vaccines and will probably accept your insurance. Some offer other types of vaccinations, both for kids (e.g., chickenpox, tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, measles/mumps/rubella) and adults (e.g., shingles or hepatitis B).

So you got the flu vaccination and by 10 p.m. you feel sort of achy and noticed a slight redness around the shot site. Or maybe you have a question about those new meds the doctor prescribed. Should you fret and worry all night long? Not if your pharmacy has …

3. A Live Chat Service, 24/7

Many drugstores offer night-and-day access to a pharmacist. This free service can help set your mind at ease or answer any questions you may have.

But that’s not the only help a pharmacy can give. Major chains are emphasizing …

4. Wellness Programs

Want to quit smoking, lose weight, monitor your blood pressure, learn how to self-manage your diabetes? Programs such as Wellness Rewards (Walgreens), Wellness Services (Kroger) and Wellness+ (Rite Aid) can help. Services like cholesterol or blood sugar tests will cost you some cash, but others are free for the asking.

Having trouble reading the fine print, even with your bifocals? Concerned that an elderly relative can’t keep pill regimens organized? Some stores now offer …

5. Personalized Packaging

You can request larger-print labels for those with vision issues. Childproof caps are available, of course, to keep a toddler from treating your pill bottle like a Pez dispenser. And some pharmacies use services like Care-Fill to put together individualized packets of pills to make things easier for consumers.

And if your child finds a cough syrup or liquid allergy medication really yucky, ask about …

6. Flavored Meds

A spoonful of sugar really does help the medicine go down. Whether it’s watermelon or cherry, bubble gum or sour apple, banana or raspberry, a dash of flavoring will make it easier to get medication into your child’s stomach.

More grown-up flavors, such as anise, licorice or crème de menthe, are available for adults who take liquid medications. This service is routinely offered free of charge.

Prescriptions can be pretty pricey, especially if they’re maintenance meds you’ll be taking for the foreseeable future (or maybe forever). Whether it’s a one-time antibiotic for bronchitis or a long-term medication, check to see if it’s on the list of …

7. Generics for $4/$10

Numerous pharmacies, including those in supermarkets and discount stores, offer a long list of generic medications at $4 for a month’s worth or $10 for a three-month supply. The list is long, so take a look, you could save some serious coin.

Another way to take the sting out of a prescription is to ask about …

8. Rewards programs

Whether it’s CVS ExtraCare, Rite Aid’s Wellness+ or Walgreens Balance Rewards, you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t get enrolled. Earn store credit and coupons for deep discounts or even free products. (Tip: Deal bloggers like The Coupon Mom do the matchups for you each week.)

The money you save can go toward paying for your other needs, including medicine, and rewards programs offer specific pharmacy perks, such as extra credit for filling prescriptions or getting immunized.

Mary Hoover, who blogs at Mission to Save, says that supermarkets such as Kroger and Giant Eagle offer fuel rewards each time you fill a prescription, plus bonus fuel rewards if you transfer a prescription. Make sure you swipe your loyalty card when doing either one, to get a cheaper price on gasoline.

Still worried about the bottom line? Some pharmacies offer …

9. Free medications

Yes, really. You can get free prenatal and/or children’s vitamins, certain antibiotics, and diabetes meds and supplies at chains like Meijer, Price Chopper, Reasor’s, Schnuck’s and ShopRite. Products and policies vary, so ask what’s available at your local store.

Incidentally, the pharmacy isn’t just for humans any longer. More and more you see drugstores offering …

10. Pet medications

If Fluffy or Fido has thyroid issues, gastrointestinal conditions, diabetes, arthritis or other health problems, you can probably fill the prescription at your local drugstore.

Maura White, who blogs at Happy Deal Happy Day, loves the convenience of getting pet meds at the Wegmans supermarket pharmacy. “I may not have to take an extra trip to the vet’s if my cat has worms,” she says.

Another great perk offered by Wegmans, Walgreens, CVS and other pharmacies is …

11. Free delivery

Having a prescription mailed to you saves you that extra trip. Set up auto-refill, and you’ll never run short because you forgot to call it in. This service is also great for those who spend winter months somewhere else, like Fort Lauderdale. Instead of having to move your prescription down with you, simply change the mailing address.

 This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

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