H-E-B and Hy-Vee have begun providing frontline health care workers with COVID-19 vaccinations, administered by their pharmacy staff.
Through its partnership with Texas and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), H-E-B said it’s adhering to a phased rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, with the first group of recipients to include health care workers, community health providers and residents of long-term care facilities. The San Antonio-based grocer has received the Moderna vaccine.
“Currently, H-E-B has been allocated a very limited supply of the vaccine by the state of Texas. We are currently honoring our commitments to vaccinate individuals in Phase 1A, which includes health care workers and community health providers who are caring for symptomatic COVID patients,” Donna Montemayor, senior director of H-E-B Pharmacy, said in a video update on Monday.
“While we can vaccinate individuals in [Phase] 1B at the same time, we simply do not have the supply to do so yet,” she explained. “But we are working with the state to receive additional allocations of the vaccine so that we can serve our customers.”
H-E-B said last week that it has requested another vaccine allocation from the state, since its initial supply has been distributed or is scheduled to be administered. The retailer added that many H-E-B pharmacies were working through waiting lists for health care providers.
In mid-December, Montemayor reported in a video that H-E-B has been “preparing for months” to provide COVID-19 vaccines and has the necessary freezers and equipment to store the immunizations and almost 1,000 certified immunizers to administer them. She also outlined the rollout for the vaccinations: After health care workers, community health providers and long-term care residents in Phase 1A, senior citizens, adults with chronic health conditions and essential workers will be next in line for the vaccine in Phase 1B.
“We expect this phase to begin soon after,” Montemayor said in the Dec. 14 video, referring to Phase 1B. “The final phase is vaccinating the general public. When it becomes available, all H-E-B pharmacies will offer the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to our customers. We expect this phase to begin sometime in the spring.” Overall, H-E-B operates more than 350 stores in Texas.
According to a state directive, H-E-B pharmacies will vaccinate people designated for Phase 1B if doses are left after Phase 1A recipients are administered the vaccine, the company said. The vaccinations are by appointment, and H-E-B plans to post a scheduling tool for COVID immunizations on the H-E-B Pharmacy website once it has ample supply of the vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Moderna vaccine for people ages 18 and older, while the other vaccine with emergency use authorization from the FDA, from Pfizer/BioNTech, can be used in patients ages 16 and older. Both vaccines require two doses, the second coming 28 days after the initial injection for Moderna’s vaccine and 21 days for Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine. H-E-B said it pharmacists will notify patients when they’re due for their second dose.
Hy-Vee started its COVID vaccination program with health care workers in Minnesota and Iowa.
West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee also is using the Moderna vaccine and provided its first COVID-19 vaccinations last week to health care workers.
Hy-Vee said it administered its first doses to long-term care facility staff and residents of the Lakeview Methodist Health Care Center in Fairmont, Minn., on Dec. 29. Nearly 100 people from the center received the Moderna vaccine from Hy-Vee pharmacists, who will return to the facility 28 days later to administer the second dose.
“This is a historic moment for us all,” Hy-Vee Chairman, CEO and President Randy Edeker said in a statement. “As an early vaccine provider, we are committed to being at the forefront and working hand-in-hand with the CDC and our local governments to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to patients as we enter this first critical phase of vaccine distribution. I want to personally thank all of our dedicated pharmacy professionals for the work they will be doing in the coming months to vaccinate and protect the residents of the many communities we serve.”
On Dec. 30, Hy-Vee administered its first coronavirus vaccine doses to frontline health care personnel in Iowa in partnership with the Dallas County Health Department. The Midwestern grocer said several dozen Dallas County health care workers received the Moderna vaccination at the Hy-Vee Pharmacy in Waukee, Iowa.
The COVID vaccine also is now available to health care workers at the West Lakes Hy-Vee Pharmacy in West Des Moines, and the retailer said it expects “in the near future” to announce a partnership with the health department of Polk County, Iowa, to provide coronavirus vaccinations.
“Hy-Vee’s eight-state footprint and bandwidth of more than 270 pharmacies gives us the unique opportunity to offer much-needed vaccine accessibility to both urban and rural communities across the Midwest,” stated Aaron Wiese, executive vice president of business innovation and chief health officer at Hy-Vee. “Our team of more than 2,700 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are committed to following all CDC guidelines, and we have processes in place to ensure the administration of the vaccines are done so in a safe and efficient manner.”
In early December, Hy-Vee announced that it plans to hire 1,000 pharmacy technicians across its market areas as it works to expand coronavirus testing and prepare for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations. Overall, Hy-Vee operates more than 275 stores in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
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