To help with distribution, the federal government will tap retail pharmacies to receive COVID-19 vaccine deliveries. Under a new program, Covid-19 vaccines will arrive directly to pharmacies nationwide. Already, many chain drug stores administer vaccine doses assigned to states. The program expedites the process by arranging COVID-19 vaccine deliveries straight to the pharmacy.
New Pharmacy Initiative
The new initiative aims to expand access to vaccines and cover even more ground all over the US. White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said the program will initially cover a million doses a week. This will then go straight to 6,500 pharmacies across the country. In addition, the program is separate from weekly vaccine shipments to states, which roughly take about 10.5 million doses. Similarly, the new pharmacy initiative is separate from ongoing arrangements with Walgreens and CVS to vaccinate long-term facility residents.
Meanwhile, the White House said that vaccinations through the new federal partnership with pharmacies will begin on February 11. “The Centers for Disease Control, which has quite a bit of experience working with pharmacies, is making sure that we are picking pharmacies in that first phase that are located in areas that are harder to reach to ensure that we have equitable distribution of the pharmacy doses,” Zients said.
Check Your Nearest Pharmacy for Vaccines
On February 11, Americans who wish to receive COVID-19 vaccination need to check their state’s eligibility requirements. Once cleared, they can check the nearest pharmacy for available doses and get their shots there. “[Pharmacy] sites are selected based on their ability to reach some of the populations most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including socially vulnerable communities,” Zients noted. Also, he said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will monitor the site data for equity concerns.
CVS Health already announced they will start vaccinating eligible Americans beginning February 11 using the doses issued by the federal government. The pharmacy chain expects about 250,000 doses delivered to 330 stores in 11 states. This includes COVID-19 heavy states such as California, Texas, Virginia, and New York. Meanwhile, Walgreens committed to starting vaccinating eligible Americans the next day, February 12. If things work out as planned and the vaccination rates go up, the federal government will scale up the deliveries. “Eventually, as we're able to increase supply, up to 40,000 pharmacies nationwide could provide Covid-19 vaccinations,” Zients said.
Slight Increase in State Allocation
Zients also reported a slight increase in doses allocated per state, from 10 million a week to 10.5 million. Last week, the federal government announced a short-term increase in available supplies from 8.6 million doses to 10 million a week per state. Biotech firm Moderna reported significant progress in its manufacturing process. Consequently, the improvements made it possible to increase its COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to the US government.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will note and fully reimburse states for emergency provisions related to COVID-19. This includes masks, gloves, National Guard deployments, and other costs, including those made during the start of the outbreak in January 2020. The funding will not require additional congressional scrutiny. Zients estimated the needed budget to deliver the doses between $3 to 5 billion.
COVID-19 By The Numbers
According to the latest numbers taken from the CDC website, there are a total of 26,160,210 cases in the United States. In addition, total COVID-19 deaths are now at 441,831. After recording the highest number of active cases (310,493) last January 08, both infection and deaths have steadily declined. However, the US remains a hotbed of coronavirus cases.
As of Tuesday, the federal government shipped around 50 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to states. Around 32.8 million doses have been administered to Americans, with over 26 million receiving their first dose while nearly 6 million getting the second dose.
Watch the MSNBC news video where Dr. Kavita Patel says that shipping vaccine doses directly to Pharmacies ‘will open up an incredible opportunity':
Do you support the idea of tapping pharmacies to assist in inoculating Americans? Do you think it will help increase the vaccination rate and help her immunity? Let us know what you think of the latest plan to get the vaccines out. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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