As more Americans grow frustrated over not being able to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine, Kroger Health — the health care division of The Kroger Co. — is aiming to make booking an appointment online more efficient with its new vaccine-scheduling tool.
The new tool can manage more than 250,000 requests daily and will reflect the amount of vaccine doses confirmed within Kroger's system, while allowing visitors to check vaccine eligibility and make appointments as availability of the vaccine increases. Customers will also be able to schedule appointments for both their first and second dose at the same time.
In addition, Kroger Health has invested in the following initiatives to streamline and encourage vaccination:
- Vaccine Support Call Center: Concurrent with its scheduling tool rollout, Kroger Health's COVID-19 vaccine support call center has partnered with IBM Watson to create an AI-powered seamless phone experience for patients. Watson will share answers to frequently asked questions and reduce the wait time for patients, making appointments by transferring them to a care representative as needed. Customers can contact 866-211-5320 to reach the dedicated support line and learn more about location and vaccine availability.
- Scheduling Platform Security: Kroger's technology and digital team has implemented advanced security measures to deter bot activity within the new scheduling platform, ensuring maximum appointment availability.
- Kroger Associate Vaccine Payment: Earlier this month, Kroger said that it would provide a one-time payment of $100 to all associates who receive the full manufacturer-recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"Everyone who is eligible should make it a priority to schedule their COVID-19 vaccination appointment," urged Dr. Marc Watkins, Kroger's chief medical officer. "We know that the science behind the vaccines is sound, and we encourage everyone in our communities to use our online tools and call center to make an appointment to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19."
Kroger's initiatives follows the retailer's three-pronged pandemic health response: testing, vaccine administration and supportive care services.
Over the past year, Kroger Health has been at the forefront of COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts. Just yesterday, Kroger Health revealed plans to introduce its smartphone-enabled at-home Gauss COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test Kit.
Additionally, as of Feb. 16, Kroger Health has administered more than 380,000 COVID-19 vaccines in 25 states to essential health care workers, skilled-nursing facilities, elderly populations, educators and eligible associates. Kroger Health is now receiving and administering vaccines at 1,300 of its 2,200 pharmacies. If all pharmacy locations begin to receive doses of the vaccine, Kroger Health could administer an average of nearly 500,000 vaccinations per week.
"Kroger Health's priority is the safety of our customers, associates and communities," said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health. "Thanks to our incredible team of health professionals and technology experts, we've been able to streamline the vaccine rollout process across our family of pharmacies during these ever-changing times. As more vaccines become available nationwide, our pharmacies and clinics will be ready and able to administer thousands of doses to our communities every day. Our new online scheduling tool and improved call center experience will allow us to easily scale to meet demand once more vaccine doses are available to Kroger Health."
Last December, Kroger Health committed to hiring 1,000 health care personnel, including pharmacy technicians, to support the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. While Kroger Health has hired a sizable number of associates, additional health care employees are still needed. To view available opportunities, visit jobs.kroger.com.