In response to the rocky coronavirus (COVID-19) rollout, many of the nation’s retail pharmacies are stepping up to help. Starting soon, several of them say they will administer the vaccine in their stores.
Dr. Cheryl Pegus, Walmart’s executive vice president of health and wellness, said the company has the ability to provide the vaccine seven days a week at more than 5,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies.
“As we look to a future when supply can meet demand and more people are eligible to receive the vaccine, we plan to offer the vaccine seven days a week at our pharmacies, through planned in-store vaccination clinics, and through large community events,” Pegus wrote in a company blog post.
CVS and Walgreens have been working together to vaccinate at-risk populations in the nation’s long-term care facilities. Both companies now say they are ready to pivot to providing vaccinations at their pharmacies and in-store clinics.
“Thanks to the dedication of tens of thousands of Walgreens pharmacy team members, we have been able to provide 1 million COVID-19 vaccinations to those who need them most in just one month,” said John Standley, president, Walgreens.
Standley acknowledges the well-publicized challenges, but he said the process is already becoming smoother as government jurisdictions continue to advance their prioritization and distribution plans.
CVS Health said it has hired an additional 10,000 pharmacy technicians, pharmacists, and nurses to implement its part of the vaccine rollout and to help with testing. The company says it has administered over 12,000 doses of the vaccine to date.
The retailers say they stand ready to help whenever federal and state governments open vaccinations to the public at large and -- more importantly -- provide an adequate amount of vaccine.
Many states have reported vaccine shortages, making it difficult to meet the demand from Americans who want the shots. Over the weekend, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the U.S. government has no idea how much vaccine is currently available, and that puts states in a bind.
“If they don’t know how much vaccine they’re getting not just this week but next week and the week after they can’t plan,” Walensky told Fox News Sunday. “They can’t figure out how many sites to roll out, they can’t figure out how many vaccinators that they need, and they can’t figure out how many appointments to make for the public.”.
Vaccine supply is limited to what has been produced by the team of Pfizer and BioNTech and by Moderna -- the two vaccines that have emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.