LOS ANGELES - Amid the roll-out of coronavirus vaccines, various retailers have answered the call to help immunize eligible the public, including Walmart, Costco and Publix.
President Joe Biden has pledged to deliver more than 100 million injections in his first 100 days in office — and suggested it's possible the U.S. could reach 1.5 million shots a day. To help with that lofty goal, certain grocery stores and retail stores are offering their services to help administer vaccines in select states.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for who should get a vaccine first amid short U.S. supplies.
The vaccine rollout is based on updated recommendations by the CDC consisting of the following phases:
- Phase 1a: Health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.
- Phase 1b: Front-line essential workers and adults 75 years of age and older.
- Phase 1c: Adults 65 to 74 years of age, individuals age 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers.
While a few have already hit the market, there are still multiple coronavirus vaccines in development around the globe.
Some use tried-and-true technologies, while others use novel approaches. The shots were all tested differently, and some were allowed to go into use even before they were rigorously tested. How well they work varies, with preliminary study results ranging from 50% effective to over 90%.
So far, regulators in different countries have allowed use of about a half dozen, mostly under emergency use provisions. A few more are getting close. The ones available now in the United States all require two doses, given weeks apart.
Here is a list of stores and pharmacies that are administering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible customers:
Walgreen’s has administered over 1 million COVID-19 vaccines at the request of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a recent news release. So far, vaccines are only being administered to the people who qualify for the Phase 1a group, which are residents in long-term care facilities and health care workers.
A Walgreen’s vaccination lead is in charge of contacting select long-term care facilities and Walgreen’s will be setting up clinics at those facilities and administering vaccines to the residents.
"The vaccine lead will help schedule all facility clinics at the same time in order to ensure consistency and compliance with second dose requirements. Clinic scheduling can begin only once a state or jurisdiction has activated its LTCF COVID-19 vaccine program. Your vaccine lead and local jurisdiction may advise. Please coordinate with your assigned vaccine lead in order to complete clinic scheduling," according to Walgreen’s.
CVS estimates that it will be able to administer between 20 million to 25 million shots per month. CVS’s federal pharmacy partnership program divided long-term care facilities into two categories: 1) skilled nursing, and 2) assisted living and other facilities.
Jeanne Peters, 95, a rehab patient at The Reservoir, a nursing facility, was given the first COVID-19 vaccination in a Ct. nursing home Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in West Hartford, Conn. Administering the vaccine is Mary Lou Galushko, a CVS pharmacist fo
Following the first phase of vaccinations, CVS will be making shots available dependent upon their supplies at pharmacies across the U.S.
"While the timeline for each of these phases is not yet known, vaccines may be available to the general population as soon as April or May," CVS's website explains.
Rite Aid is helping state health officials administer vaccines and appointments are available through individual state health websites, according to the pharmacy company.
"Rite Aid is helping to administer vaccines in some areas, but is not currently able to schedule appointments directly. Please see our eligibility and registration guide for more information. In some instances, you may need to visit a county website instead of the state’s website for the most relevant information. If you’re unsure which page is relevant for you, we recommend checking both," according to the Rite Aid FAQ website.
Walmart plans to deliver up to 13 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine per month "when supply and allocations allow."
The retailer plans to offer the vaccine every day at its more than 5,000 Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies through in-store vaccination clinics and large community events, Dr. Cheryl Pegus, Walmart's executive vice president of health and wellness, said in a note to customers.
In November, federal health officials reached an agreement with pharmacies across the U.S., including big box stores like Costco and Walmart, to distribute free vaccines after they are approved and become available to the public.
The agreement, which follows a collaboration with CVS and Walgreens to deliver vaccines to nursing homes, is part of an ongoing effort to make getting a COVID-19 vaccine like getting a flu shot.
Once vaccines are made available, people can search in Walmart’s locator map for select eligible locations.
Publix pharmacies are only offering COVID-19 vaccinations in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina and are operating on an appointment-only basis. All appointments have been claimed for the first round of vaccinations, but the Publix website indicates that once more vaccines are made available, appointment slots will open back up.
For those looking for a vaccine, both stores have a COVID-19 vaccine availability web page that allows people to check each state’s availability.
If doses are available, individuals need to fill out several forms as well as prove their eligibility. As soon as those are filled out, an appointment will be set up and a consent form will require the individual’s signature.
Meijer pharmacies have received a limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccine at select locations. According to the website, those who wish to be invited to receive a vaccine have to fill out a pre-registration form.
Once that is complete, individuals will receive an invitation to sign up for an appointment to get their shot once doses are available, according to the Meijer website. Like most pharmacies, Meijer has partnered with state heath departments to determine who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Wegmans will be administering vaccines in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Virginia.
Each state has its own protocols for who is eligible for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Appointments to get a vaccine can be made on Wegmans pharmacy website or eligible customers who do not have a smartphone or computer can call 1-800-207-6099 Monday – Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wegmans plans to start administering doses to at select locations in Maryland and New Jersey but has yet to reveal dates.
HEB has administered a limited number of COVID-19 vaccine doses to individuals who qualify for the Phase 1a group or Phase 1b groups
So far, most of the appointments have been booked for Phase 1a and HEB is "awaiting additional allocation of vaccine from the state of Texas so we can continue to vaccinate healthcare providers as well as begin offering vaccine to those in Phase 1B," according to the website.
"Customers who received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine from H-E-B between 12/23 and 12/27 will be contacted by H-E-B to schedule an appointment to receive the second dose," the website says.
Pennsylvania chain Weis Markets announced on Jan. 20 that it will begin administering COVID-19 vaccinations in 55 of its in-store pharmacies throughout Pennsylvania.
Vaccines were made available starting Jan. 21 and the company currently prioritizes individuals 65 and older for COVID-19 immunizations.
"Our pharmacies have received a limited quantity of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and will begin immunizing on Thursday. Per Pennsylvania Health Department guidelines, we are prioritizing individuals 65 years or older and those with high-risk conditions for immunization appointments," said Rick Seipp, Weis Markets’ vice president of pharmacy. "Over time, we hope to expand to other priority categories as vaccine becomes more available and in coordination with the Commonwealth’s guidelines. We’re ready to help."
Costco announced on Jan. 23 that its pharmacies will be administering COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they’re available. The company did not specify when they would be able to inoculate people but said in a statement to check with the CDC’s website for coronavirus vaccine availability.
The company urged customers not to contact local Costco pharmacies, saying they are not able to schedule appointments to administer vaccines.
The grocery chain says it is allowing individuals to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination, but it is currently prioritizing certain people based on various phases.
Working closely with federal, state, and local partners, Albertsons Cos. pharmacy teams began administering doses of the vaccine for Phase 1A recipients on Dec. 18 at a clinic in Alaska staffed by Carrs Safeway pharmacists. The company has received doses in eight other states for this critical first phase and it anticipates more supply is on the way.
The company offers a tool to determine vaccine availability depending on the area and also allowing individuals to check if they are eligible for immunization.
"We expect all our pharmacies to receive vaccine supply. Currently, supply is allocated by state and local health departments as well as the federal government," the company wrote on its website.
"Throughout the pandemic, customers have trusted our pharmacy teams to play a critical role in maintaining their health and wellness," said Omer Gajial, SVP of Albertsons Companies Pharmacy and Health. "We are preparing and expanding our trained pharmacy teams to handle the unprecedented demand and administer the vaccine safely and efficiently to the communities we serve as it becomes available."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.