Retail pharmacies are stepping up to help speed up Kovid-19 vaccination than anticipated after states’ calls to make the most of their network and experience.
Independent and chain drug stores should not have played a large role in delivering vaccines until later stages, when doses would be much more widely available. But the yet-to-be-rolled rollout has sent governors to scratch for an alternative to hospital systems and local health departments, which are handling most of the vaccinations so far.
This week New York is expanding distribution to hundreds of pharmacies across the state, so health care workers or people as young as 75 have more options for getting vaccinated.
“They know how to do it,” said Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo. He said that 1,200 pharmacies had committed to helping speed delivery in addition to other health care providers.
Louisiana made uniform Declaration Monday, and some of the nation’s largest chains are widening their distribution to help states with Phase I plans.
Right Aid said on Monday that it had entered into agreements to vaccinate Phase I groups in Delaware, New Jersey, New York City and Philadelphia. In Florida, pharmacies inside some Publix Super Markets began vaccinations on Friday.
“The list continues to grow as additional jurisdictions reach out for assistance,” said Jim Peters, chief operating officer of Reat Aid in a statement.
Another major chain, Kroger, said it was vaccinating health care workers in select parts of five states, including California and Texas, and other chains and states said they were in discussions to do more.
States are generally not widening people who are eligible for vaccination – just adding to their list of distribution points.
Experts said this is an important step to accelerate delivery, which is given to millions of flu pharmacist administrators every year.
Joe Grogan, who worked on the initial coronovirus federal response as director of the Domestic Policy Council at the Trump White House, said, “I go to CVS every year. I dropped my gaol on the street. I’ll do the same for Kovid. ” He left in May.
“I don’t understand the justification for holding back pharmacies and why they haven’t been activated already,” Grogan said.
Kovid-19 vaccination has been slowed across the country due to problems in the final stages, where the burden of injection doses has often come to dominate county health officials. Appointment websites have crashed, offices have closed for weekends and holidays, and confusion about the process is common.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only one-third of the vaccine delivered to the states by the federal government has actually been administered in arms.
CVS and Valgrens, the two largest pharmacy chains in the US, began offering Pfizer and BioNotech vaccines to nursing home residents and staff members last month in partnership with the federal government. It did not include retail locations for other high-priority groups.
Involvement in vaccine delivery is an important business opportunity for pharmacies to prove their relevance to consumers.
“They, as an industry, are trying to figure out what we need to do to advance our strategy so that we don’t become the next radioshake?” The company, Jefferies, told CNBC, referring to the retail electronics giant that it is now its former self.
And lobbyists did not hesitate to explain the huge footprint of pharmacies, saying that if given the chance and adequate supplies were available, their companies could deliver up to 100 million doses a month. National Association of Chain Drug Stores spokesman Chris Cryce said the number about staffing was “based on very conservative beliefs” and may well be higher.
In an email, Krese said, “The government is making aware of all levels of recommendations to help ensure the efficient and equitable administration of safe and effective COVID vaccines,” Krese said in an email.
Non-chain pharmacies said they are also in talks with federal authorities. “In order for a Kovid-19 vaccine rollout plan to be successful, independent pharmacies must be incorporated and be part of the solution,” said Andy Peeverunas, a spokesman for the National Community Pharmacists Association.
But pharmacies and other health care providers cannot do much without moving on from governors.
“We are just an agent for the states,” Walgren CEO Stefano Pesina told The Wall Street Journal last week. “We are vaccinating at a pace that is a fraction of the speed that we can. We would have done a lot more as a pharmacy chain if we had a certain degree of freedom.”
CVS does not have any vaccine doses available, but it is “in discussions with several states to provide a limited number of doses in the coming weeks before a wider rollout,” spokesman TJ Crawford said in an email.
Two major pharmacies, along with 17 other pharmacy networks, were not scheduled to begin vaccinations for the general population in their stores until Phase 2 and 3. New York, Florida, and other states using pharmacies have just been Are also not in phase 1.
The federal government is expected to move forward after the presidential election which Biden is sworn in next week.
Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said, “As the Biden team increases the supply of the Kovid vaccine, so will the rapid challenge at delivery sites continue;” Tweeted Friday.
“Channels are pharmacies that are able to absorb large volumes quickly,” he said. “We need to get fully pharmacists in the game.”
In New York, Cuomo said, 5,000 pharmacy locations will eventually be involved in vaccination. The state is maintaining the lists by region on a new website, and he said he expected distribution to become a problem soon.
“We’re going to have the opposite problem now,” Cuomo said. “I am expecting an increase in supply.”