COVID-19 vaccine doses will be sent directly to pharmacies to expand access to the shots nationwide.
In an effort to get vaccines to more individuals, the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response team recently revealed that it will route doses from the federal government directly to pharmacies, including CVS Health, Walgreens and Walmart.
Thus far, the vaccine rollout has been slow going, due to demand far exceeding supply. Having doses sourced directly from the federal government through the pharmacy partnership program is a step in reducing this gap.
Starting Feb. 11, CVS Health will begin offering the federally allocated vaccinations to eligible populations at CVS Pharmacy locations in 11 states: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Supply for the initial rollout will be approximately 250,000 total doses.
“Our presence in communities across the country makes us an ideal partner for administering vaccines in a safe, convenient and familiar manner,” said Karen S. Lynch, president and CEO of CVS Health. “This is particularly true for underserved communities, which have been a focus for us throughout the pandemic.”
More than 90,000 health care professionals, including pharmacists, licensed pharmacy technicians and nurses, will participate in the vaccination effort, giving CVS Pharmacy the capacity to administer 20-25 million shots per month.
Vaccines will be offered on an appointment-only basis via CVS.com or through the CVS Pharmacy app, and those without online access can contact customer service at 1-800-746-7287. Bookings for the Feb. 11 supply will be available as early as Feb. 9 as stores receive shipments.
Meanwhile, Walgreens will start distributing its federally allocated vaccinations to eligible individuals across 15 states and jurisdictions, starting Feb. 12.
“Walgreens was one of the first pharmacies to begin administering COVID-19 vaccinations in December to long-term care facility staff and residents, and we look forward to leveraging our experience to support the federal government and CDC in expanding access to these vaccines,” said John Standley, president of Walgreens. “Our pharmacy teams have already provided nearly 2 million COVID-19 vaccinations and stand ready with their expertise to help educate and vaccinate additional Americans, including those in rural and underserved communities.”
Walgreens' doses will be allocated to the following states and local jurisdictions: Chicago, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York state, New York City, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
Additionally, Walmart and Sam’s Club Pharmacies indicated that they will also administer federal allocations of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Walmart and Sam’s Club are working with the federal government to help increase access to COVID-19 vaccines at select pharmacies in 22 states once vaccine doses are available, starting late next week,” said Amanda Jenkins, VP of health and wellness operations at Walmart, in a Feb. 2 statement. “Once our locations have received the vaccines, eligible customers can reserve a convenient vaccine appointment directly via a scheduling tool on the Walmart and Sam’s Club website, while allocation lasts. In addition to appointments, the scheduler will provide a digital reminder when it’s time to return for the second dose of the vaccine, in order for the vaccine to be fully effective.”
Walmart will administer the vaccine from the federal government in 22 states: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Louisiana and Wyoming.
Jenkins said that Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies won't receive the limited allocation until next week at the earliest. Once a store or club receives allocation, its online scheduler will be available to make appointments at www.walmart.com/COVIDvaccine and www.samsclub.com/covid.
All three retailers are reminding individuals that although their pharmacy locations are receiving allocations from the federal government, supply is still limited. As such, locations will schedule appointments based on how many doses they receive. Locations and appointments will increase once additional doses become available.
In addition to the federal allocations, all three retailers also have agreements in place with the state governments and are already administering vaccines from the state allocations.
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 56 banners in 27 countries, and e-commerce websites. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food retailers in in North America., while Walmart-owned Sam's Club ranks No. 9 on The PG 100 list. Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens, which is included in the Retail Pharmacy USA division of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., is No. 4 on PG's list, and Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS Health, whose CVS Pharmacy subsidiary operates almost 10,000 locations nationwide, is No. 6.