Retail Pharmacies Prepare to Help With Vaccine Distribution
Relieving Pressure on Hospitals
Retail companies across the US are gearing up to play a large role in distributing COVID-19 vaccines. Hospitals and healthcare systems, which have already been under enormous pressure treating COVID-19 patients, will not be able to handle vaccine rollout on their own. So pharmacies are stepping in to help.
Beginning next month, the CDC plans to make shots available at pharmacies like Walgreens (WBA), CVS (CVS), Walmart (WMT) and Kroger (KR). These retailers say they will be ready to administer tens of millions of shots per month.
These pharmacies will be helpful with vaccine rollout efforts for several reasons. They have experience distributing vaccines for the flu, shingles, and other diseases. Many pharmacies also already have online scheduling tools and physical space to handle a large amount of vaccine appointments. These companies are in the process of hiring tens of thousands of pharmacists and technicians to help administer shots. CVS has said that it will have the capacity to vaccinate between 20 million and 25 million people per month once enough shots are available.
Retail pharmacies are also accessible to a large percentage of the population, which will hopefully help vaccines reach citizens efficiently. CVS and Walgreens together have about 19,000 locations in the US. Dozens of other regional pharmacies and grocery stores will also join in the effort.
A Step in the Right Direction
The first months of vaccine rollout in the US have been rocky. Supply chain difficulties, confusion surrounding eligibility and appointments, as well as other challenges have caused the process to be slower than many had hoped.
However, the Biden administration has said it will purchase enough doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate most of the US population by the end of the summer. Retail pharmacies will be a key part of distributing these shots in the upcoming months.
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