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Next week, federal program will begin sending vaccines to retail pharmacies

Supply will be limited in first phase, but will be ramped up
CVS HealthHUB
Posted at 12:08 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 14:20:59-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it’s increasing the weekly vaccine supply sent to states, tribes and territories to 10.5 million doses nationwide. That’s a 22% increase since Biden took office on Jan. 20.

The White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients, also revealed Tuesday that the first phase of the administration’s federal pharmacy program will launch next week.

“Starting on Feb. 11, the federal government will deliver vaccines directly to select pharmacies across the country,” said Zients during a virtual press briefing. “This will provide more sites for people to be vaccinated in their communities and it’s an important component to delivering vaccines equitably.”

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During his remarks, Zients said he wants to set appropriate expectations on pharmacy vaccinations.

“Due to the current supply constraints, this will be limited when it begins next week,” he said. “In this first phase of the program, supply will only be at about 6,500 stores nationwide before expanding.”

For those wanting to sign up to be vaccinated, Zients says they should first meet their state’s standards for vaccine eligibility and then check availability on their local pharmacy’s website.

“Eventually, as we’re able to increase supply, up to 40,000 nationwide could provide COVID-19 vaccinations,” said Zients. “These are places ranging from local independent pharmacies to national pharmacies and supermarkets.”

The following chains are participating federal pharmacy partners:
(Not all will be active in every state in initial phase)

  • Walgreens (including Duane Reade)
  • CVS Pharmacy, Inc. (including Long’s)
  • Walmart, Inc. (including Sam’s Club)
  • Rite Aid Corp.
  • The Kroger Co. (including Kroger, Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Ralphs, King Soopers, Smiths, City Market, Dillons, Mariano’s, Pick-n-Save, Copps, Metro Market)
  • Publix Super Markets, Inc.
  • Costco Wholesale Corp.
  • Albertsons Companies, Inc. (including Osco, Jewel-Osco, Albertsons, Albertsons Market, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Star Market, Shaw’s, Haggen, Acme, Randalls, Carrs, Market Street, United, Vons, Pavilions, Amigos, Lucky’s, Pak n Save, Sav-On)
  • Hy-Vee, Inc.
  • Meijer Inc.
  • H-E-B, LP
  • Retail Business Services, LLC (including Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Company, Hannaford Bros Co, Stop & Shop)
  • Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. (including Winn-Dixie, Harveys, Fresco Y Mas)

The Biden administration also says it’s increasing funding to communities to “help turn vaccines into vaccinations.” The president says the government will retroactively reimburse states fully for FEMA-eligible services, including masks, gloves, emergency feeding actions, sheltering at-risk populations, and mobilization of the National Guard.

The White House estimates the reimbursement will total $3-5 billion, but the administration says more funds are needed to support state efforts to contain he pandemic. Biden is requesting $350 billion from Congress in his American Rescue Plan, the latest COVID-19 relief bill being negotiated between Democrats and Republicans.

The actions outlined above are part of Biden’s goal of administering 100 million shots in 100 days and expanding access to vaccines to more Americans in the coming weeks.