Supercenter retailer Meijer can now provide COVID-19 vaccines at all of its 256 stores in its six-state Midwestern trade area.
Meijer said Monday that it has become a national partner in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination in Wisconsin, Illinois and Kentucky. In February, when President Joe Biden announced the program — which distributes coronavirus immunizations directly to pharmacies — Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer was a partner only in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
With the expansion, Meijer said it will be able to administer 150,000 doses this week through clinics held at each of its stores and at off-site clinics. This week alone, the retailer will conduct more than 950 clinics — large and small scale — at its stores, in addition to supporting FEMA in mass vaccination clinics at Ford Field in Detroit and at numerous off-site clinics with other partners, the company reported.
“Our stores and pharmacies continue playing an integral role in supporting their communities across the Midwest during this challenging time,” Meijer President and CEO Rick Keyes said in a statement. “Whether our team members and pharmacists are working with local organizations, coordinating off-site events or hosting large in-store clinics, we’re proud to continue our efforts as a federal retail pharmacy partner in the states of Wisconsin, Illinois and Kentucky as we expand access to these critical vaccines and defeat this pandemic.”
Through its online reservation website at clinic.meijer.com, Meijer has registered more than 2 million people to receive COVID vaccines since the system was launched in January. People also can schedule an appointment by texting “COVID” to 75049, and they will receive a link to register.
Meijer reported that, to date, it has held more than 3,000 vaccine clinics and administered 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Our pharmacy teams have been working diligently to vaccinate as many people as possible since doses have become available,” commented Jason Beauch, vice president of pharmacy at Meijer. “Expanding the partnership with the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program makes our job even easier because now we’ll be able to reach even more people interested in receiving this vaccine.”
Expanding federal pharmacy program
On Monday, the White House announced that the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program is expanding its number of participating pharmacy locations from 17,000 to nearly 40,000 — including 45% currently in the highest-need neighborhoods — and that another dozen mass vaccination sites will be in operation by April 19. Twenty-one of the federally run site already have been launched around the country, with the capacity to administer a total of 79,000 shots per day. In addition, 31 states have said they will open up eligibility to all adults by April 19, which means that 90% of all U.S. adults will be eligible for vaccination in three weeks, the White House noted.
“Our nation’s pharmacies are uniquely situated to turn vaccine doses into vaccination appointments — efficiently, equitably and conveniently,” stated Steve Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, for which Meijer’s Keyes is chairman. “We appreciate President Biden’s leadership and historic announcement today that the administration is more than doubling the number of pharmacies in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program from 17,000 to nearly 40,000. With a sufficient vaccine allocation, the American people can benefit fully from the fact that 90% of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy.”
Through the morning of March 29, 28.6% of the U.S. population had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 15.8% had been fully vaccinated, with 145.8 million vaccines administered of the 180.6 million delivered by manufacturers, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.