Albertsons Cos. has hit the 6 million mark in COVID-19 shots administered by its pharmacies and rolled out new tools to help people get tested and vaccinated, including a digital record, rapid antigen self-tests and a vaccine map.
The new coronavirus vaccine milestone comes just over two months after Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons made the immunizations without an appointment and reported reaching 4 million COVID vaccinations provided via its 1,700 pharmacies. The retailer said Monday that shots are available at its Safeway, Vons, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw’s, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Market Street, Haggen and Carrs pharmacies with no appointment.
Part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination, which allocates immunizations directly to pharmacy partners. Albertsons administered its first COVID vaccine doses, from Pfizer/BioNTech, in mid-December at a clinic in Alaska run by Carrs/Safeway pharmacists. The retailer’s pharmacy teams topped the 1 million mark in COVID-19 vaccines administered in early March.
“As front-line healthcare providers, our pharmacy teams have been heroic in administering millions of vaccinations to our customers across the country and providing them with critical information and solutions during these unprecedented times,” Omer Gajial, senior vice president of pharmacy and health at Albertsons, said in a statement. “With these enhancements, we are proud to be able to offer local communities new resources to help keep them safe and make informed decisions about their health as we continue to navigate through this public health crisis together.”
Albertsons said it’s now rolling out a free digital vaccine record that can be downloaded and saved to a mobile device. Customers who complete their COVID-19 inoculations (two shots for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and one shot for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) at any Albertsons Cos. pharmacy will receive an email in the next few days with detailed instructions on how to access their digital vaccine record. The information also will be shared with anyone getting the vaccine in the future at one of the company’s pharmacy locations.
To make it easier for customers to get immunized, Albertsons also is providing assistance in locating, booking and traveling to vaccine appointments. The grocer said it has partnered with Moderna to sponsor a COVID-19 vaccine map on online locator Nextdoor. After finding a nearby vaccine appointment using the Nextdoor tool, users are then redirected to the Albertsons reservation tool to set a vaccine appointment, receive a confirmation and schedule the second dose, all in less than three minutes.
On the transportation side, Albertsons has teamed with rideshare company Lyft to offer discounted rides to and from any Albertsons Cos. pharmacy for a COVID shot. When customers make a vaccine appointment at Albertsons online scheduler, they receive a Lyft discount code in their confirmation email (the discounts aren’t available in New York or New Jersey). Those who get vaccinated at Albertsons also get a 10% off coupon for a grocery purchase, up to $200.
In addition, Albertsons Cos. pharmacies have begun offering Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test, which can be used by people with or without symptoms who may have been exposed to the virus. The nonprescription tests can be purchased at in-store pharmacy locations and can be used on children as young as 2 years old.
Each test kit includes two nasal swabs and instructions. The swabs are intended to be administered within 48 to 72 hours of each other. Albertsons said the tests, which may not be covered by health insurance, are minimally invasive, and results for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals are available in as little as 15 minutes.
Rapid antigen tests detect protein fragments specific to the COVID-19, while the more common molecular PCR (viral) test actually detects genetic material (RNA) specific to the virus. Though the molecular PCR test is considered the “gold standard” in COVID-19 detection, results can take up to a week, whereas the rapid antigen test delivers results quickly but can yield false positives, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Through the afternoon of July 19, 56.1% of the U.S. population had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 48.6% had been fully vaccinated, with 338.2 million vaccines administered of the 390.2 million delivered by manufacturers, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 68.3% of Americans ages 18 and older had gotten at least one shot (59.5% fully vaccinated), while 65.6% of those ages 12 and older have received at least one dose (56.9% fully vaccinated).