Walgreens, CVS and Ceremony Help all supply Covid vaccines on the identical day when the tempo slows down
A woman enters a CVS Covid-19 vaccination center in Monterey Park, California on April 27, 2021.
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid are offering same-day appointments for Covid-19 vaccines as companies try to keep the momentum going as the pace of vaccinations slows down each day.
On Monday, Walgreens announced that same-day appointments will be available in stores starting Wednesday. The company also activates mobile clinics in underserved areas of Chicago that allow people to approach them and get an opportunity. The mobile clinics, which resemble a van or trailer, are also expanding to other cities, said Rina Shah, group vice president of pharmacy operations at Walgreens.
CVS started on April 23 with appointments on the same day. Customers could schedule a vaccine an hour in advance, said company spokesman Mike DeAngelis. And Rite Aid said it only allows limited walk-in vaccines.
The three drugstore chains value flexibility and convenience when trying to reach people who are busy, hesitant, or challenged by other obstacles such as lack of transportation or lack of internet. In the US, an average of 2.4 million vaccinations per day were reported last week as of Sunday. This is according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after a peak of 3.4 million reported shots per day on April 13th. Even though all adults in every state are eligible.
In an interview, Shah said Walgreens saw that demand varied from region to region. In some parts of the country, she said, the appointment slots fill up quickly and in others there are many vacancies. With more ready-made doses and more people qualifying for a vaccination, drug stores are better positioned to help, she said.
Widespread vaccination will bring the US closer to “herd immunity” – the point at which Covid-19 cannot easily or quickly spread because most of the population has immunity, Shah said.
“Once we get herd immunity, we will be in a much better place as a nation,” she said. “Then we can determine, ‘Is a booster needed? Isn’t it? How can we get back to our normal lives and not be nervous or at risk of hospitalization or death?'”
Some medical experts and scientists have expressed doubts about when – or if – herd immunity is possible, but have encouraged vaccinations to try to achieve this goal.
CVS and Walgreens have also opened community-based clinics in locations such as YMCAs, churches, and nonprofits. Companies are signing contracts with major employers for on-site clinics, similar to what happens during flu season.
CVS said shots were fired at a wide variety of Americans, from dock workers to pilots, through contracts with Delta Air Lines, the City of Philadelphia, and the New York Shipping Association, among others.
Walgreens has contracts with more than 100 employers, including Apple and Amtrak.
“We are seeing an increase in employers who want to make sure that all of their employees are insured and can go back to work,” said Shah.
Walgreens has given more than 15 million Covid vaccines and CVS has given more than 10 million. Rite Aid has delivered over 2.5 million vaccines as of April 15, said Jim Peters, its chief operating officer, on his call for profits.
In addition to speeding up the return to work and typical life, the vaccination effort is also a way for drug stores to make money, attract pedestrian traffic, and build customer loyalty.