Today's Paper State News Hutchinson 2024 LEARNS Guide Newsletters Opinion Sports Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

Pharmacy chains gearing up for vaccinations push

by Serenah McKay | January 24, 2021 at 2:57 a.m.
A customer wearing a mask walks out of a Walgreens pharmacy store in Seattle in this Dec. 2, 2020, file photo. At left, a sign advises that covid-19 vaccines were not yet available there.

Among the complaints of Arkansans trying to set up their covid-19 vaccination appointments is: "My Walgreens [or CVS or Walmart] isn't giving those shots."

That may be changing, however. Executives and spokesmen are talking about the big pharmacy chains' plans to widely offer coronavirus immunizations.

CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. are on the verge of offering the shots to the public, according to company reports.

And Walmart Inc., which is expanding its inoculations into seven states outside Arkansas, indicated on a company blog that it eventually plans to offer covid-19 vaccinations throughout the chain.

The Bentonville-based retailer now offers the inoculations to eligible Arkansans only at its pharmacies in Arkadelphia, Ashdown, West Memphis and El Dorado, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage »]

Walgreens and CVS contracted with the federal Department of Health and Human Services in October to first vaccinate residents of long-term-care facilities nationwide. Those inoculations began Dec. 28, and the companies say they'll wrap up in late January.

Once that initiative is completed, their agreements with Health and Human Service allows both chains to offer the vaccine at all of their pharmacy locations.


A new blog post Friday by Dr. Cheryl Pegus, Walmart's new executive vice president of health and wellness, talked about how the company expects to be able to deliver up to 13 million doses a month "when supply and allocations allow," and is training pharmacists and staff members so they can be ready.

"As we look to a future when supply can meet demand and more people are eligible to receive the vaccine, we plan to offer the vaccine seven days a week at our pharmacies, through planned vaccination clinics and through large community events," she said.

The company can help the nation in a couple of key ways, she wrote, especially in rural and medically underserved areas where health care is scarce.


Walgreens plans to eventually offer the vaccine at all of its more than 9,000 stores once doses are available for mass distribution and in accordance with state and local guidance, according to the company's website.

When the chain starts vaccinating the public, it will reach out to underserved and rural areas using methods such as mobile and off-site clinics, the company said.

The drugstore chain's spokespeople were unable to comment "due to the high volume of media inquiries" they're receiving, according to an automated email reply.


CVS pharmacy vaccinations for the public are currently available only at a small number of the chain's stores in Indiana, New York and Massachusetts, CVS Health spokeswoman Monica Prinzing said. But the company is talking about a "broader rollout."

"The company remains in discussions with additional states to make a limited number of doses available in the coming weeks in advance of the broader rollout," she said.

Vaccines in retail settings will be given by appointment only, Prinzing said. Appointments can be made on the company's website or through its app.

Prinzing said CVS has the capacity to administer up to 25 million shots per month. The company has nearly 10,000 pharmacies across the country.


Sponsor Content