Feds, drug stores to distribute COVID-19 vaccines for free once available

Several big chain pharmacies, like CVS and Walgreens, are standing ready to offer a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is available.

They're part of a federal distribution partnership.

Federal, state, and local organizations are still working on plans on what distribution and storage of the vaccine will look like.

We can expect to hear more details about that in the coming weeks, but likely the most vulnerable and elderly, as well frontline workers, will be first in line.

“It’s our key to returning to some semblance of normalcy,” said Dr. Mark Casanova, president of the Dallas County Medical Society.

The Trump Administration anticipates COVID-19 vaccinations to start being available by the end of the year.

Plans are in the works to distribute a vaccine on a federal, state, and local level.

One of the frontrunners, Pfizer, said early data shows its vaccine is 90% effective.

Dr. Casanova is one of the volunteers in the Pfizer vaccine trial.

“I will tell you from personal experience, it’s a tolerable vaccine, you certainly feel the second booster shot,” he said.

Dr. Casanova said he felt mild symptoms after getting the second dose, including a slight fever and muscle aches, like what a person might feel after getting a flu shot, which means the vaccine is working as it should.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two shots, taken three weeks apart.

“You definitely felt it, you were aware that your immune system was kicking into high gear, and it was your immune system, various antibodies begin to surge, which give us those symptoms of muscle aches, low grade fever and the like. With some degree of irony, feeling a bit cruddy is really a good thing,” he explained.

Medical syringe is seen with 'covid-19' sign displayed on a screen in the background in this illustration photo taken in Poland on October 12, 2020. (Photo illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Germaine Fields is also participating in a similar COVID-19 vaccine trial through Ventavia Research Group in Fort Worth.

“It made me feel hopeful because this has been a long time coming and it’s been a long time of people dying of COVID-19, so just really, really excited to have something out there that might possibly help individuals,” she said.

Fields said she didn’t feel any noticeable side effects and hasn’t contracted COVID-19.

She doesn’t know if she’s one of the participants who got a vaccine or a placebo.

“It’s important to understand that it counts, we need this information because we’re affected by things so they need to be able to actively participate so we can see what works for us as well as others,” she added.

When a vaccine is ready, several companies, including Tom Thumb and CVS, said they are ready to distribute it quickly to millions of people through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Pharmacies are still awaiting guidance from the federal government on vaccine distribution, but Albertsons and Tom Thumb sad the vaccine will be free.

“This is hopeful, this is very optimistic. And not a reason, however, for people to let down their guard, so please continue to be safe,” Dr. Casanova added.

Locally, Ventavia Research Group is still enrolling participants ages 16 and up in COVID-19 vaccine trials.

Those trials are happening in Keller, Fort Worth, and Houston.

The company also anticipates starting phase three trials for other companies in the next six weeks.

For more information on participating in the COVID-19 vaccine trial, you can visit www.ventaviaresearch.com or email info@ventaviaresearch.com.