Bid the administration to ship Covid vaccines on to pharmacies
The U.S. will increase its weekly deliveries of Covid-19 vaccine doses to states by 5% and send some doses direct to pharmacies to expand access to the life-saving shots nationwide, the Biden government’s Covid-19 response team said Tuesday With.
The federal government will now be sending at least 10.5 million doses a week to the US for the next three weeks, White House Covid Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.
The surge comes a week after the White House announced it would increase supplies to states by 16% over the next three weeks. The government is also buying an additional 100 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s two-shot vaccines, and said last week it would have enough doses ready for 300 million Americans by the end of summer or early fall.
The federal government will be sending cans directly to drugstores starting February 11, Zients said. However, due to the limited supply of vials, the program will begin with around 6,500 retail stores nationwide, which will eventually expand to 40,000 pharmacies.
The US has allocated 1 million doses to pharmacies in addition to the 10.5 million it has reserved for states, tribes and US territories as of next week, Zients said.
Zients said the expanded vaccine offering was “all a result of increased production”. He said the administration was able to raise the necessary resources to extract an additional sixth dose from Pfizer’s vaccine bottles, which were originally supposed to contain five shots.
The supply kits that are being sent to states with the company’s vaccine now include a special, low dead space syringe needed to pull the extra shot, which should translate into a 20% increase in the nationwide supply of Pfizer vaccine.
The federal government has already partnered with CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate people in long-term care facilities. However, this program differs from a plan announced in November under the previous Trump administration that aims to make cans available in a larger number of retail pharmacies.
Some drugstore chains have already started vaccinating people in certain states who assign a portion of their doses directly to those pharmacies. The new partnership would make it possible to forward the recordings directly from the federal government to stationary retail chains.
“This pharmacy program will expand access to neighborhoods across the country so you can schedule an appointment and receive your admission conveniently and quickly,” said Zients.
Drug chains and pharmacies should play a bigger role in distributing the vaccine once the government expands access to more people. However, the slower than expected rollout has frustrated pharmacy chains, who have said they could use their existing footprint to accelerate sales.
The Biden government had previously announced that it would “quickly get under way” efforts to ensure vaccines are available from local pharmacies in the US. President Joe Biden said the plan would ensure most Americans have access to a vaccine just a few miles from their homes.
Pharmacy chains are preparing for vaccines
CVS announced Tuesday that it will begin delivering Covid-19 vaccines to eligible populations in 11 states through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program on February 11.
These states include California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York (excluding New York City), Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. The company said it will begin shipping around 250,000 cans.
CVS, which has nearly 10,000 pharmacies nationwide, has the capacity to deliver up to 25 million shots per month. Employees can book an appointment on the company’s website or by calling Customer Service.
Walgreens announced Tuesday that starting February 12, vaccinations will be given under the program in 15 states and jurisdictions.
These include Chicago, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, New York, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. Appointments can be made through the company’s online vaccination schedule.