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Report: Major Retailers Ready to Distribute COVID Vaccine This Month

Walgreens, CVS Health and Walmart have shared their plans for administering COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are approved. A Food and Drug Administration panel approved emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 10, according to The New York Times. If, as expected, the agency quickly accepts the panel’s recommendation, a limited number of vaccine doses could be available by next week.

In a Dec. 11 appearance on NBC’s Today show, Walgreens Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Ban said that the retailer is prepped to distribute the first vaccine doses to long-term care facilities within 10 days.

“As soon as we have official emergency use authorization, what we can expect is that the states will receive allocation of the vaccine based on population,” said Dr. Ban. “Our expectation is that as soon as next week, [the states] will prioritize that to the people on the front lines of this pandemic — first responders and health care workers. Walgreens will play a role in supporting that effort. Our expectation is that shortly thereafter we will begin the vaccine program in long-term care facilities, and our expectation is that that will happen on Monday, Dec. 21.”

Walmart Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tom Van Gilder wrote in a corporate blog post that the retailer is “preparing our 5,000+ Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies to receive the vaccine doses, including making sure we have freezers in all our pharmacies, as well as dry ice to handle any requirements for storing the vaccine.”

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Dr. Van Gilder added that the first approved vaccines were likely to require two doses, so the retailer would be “putting in place processes to inform people of when to receive the first and second doses and to report successful vaccinations.”

CVS Health has 10,000 health care professionals ready to administer the vaccine in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

“We’re ready to administer vaccines into the arms of some of our most vulnerable populations” within 24 to 48 hours of receiving its share of doses, said Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Health in a CNBC report. He added that the company has been hiring individuals since the pandemic began and touted the company’s experience giving seasonal flu shots at long-term care facilities.

“Pending approval, I’m confident that we’ll be in thousands of facilities before the Christmas holiday,” said Merlo.

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