Walmart plans to start administering COVID-19 vaccinations via the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, announced last week by the Biden administration, on Friday.
Meanwhile, Southeastern grocer Publix Super Markets has boosted its coronavirus vaccine availability to nearly 600 pharmacies in Florida, and Midwestern grocer Hy-Vee plans a COVID vaccination clinic for this weekend.
Walmart said yesterday that more than 1,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in 22 states are receiving federal COVID-19 vaccine allocations this week and will begin providing the shots on Feb. 12, focusing on underserved communities with limited access to health care. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer added that it’s now administering vaccinations under the state and local allocations in 11 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
To help prioritize administration of vaccines, Walmart said it worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and states to assess population density, customer demographics, infection rates and availability of local health care resources in determining locations to receive doses. The retailer also examined pharmacies in “medically underserved areas” as designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration, including a Walmart store in Brewton, Ala., that was chosen as a COVID vaccine site because it’s the only location with such capability for 102 miles.
“Ninety percent of the country lives within 10 miles of a Walmart. We’re at the heart of many rural and underserved communities, and we are committed to providing access to vaccines as groups become eligible,” Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president of health and wellness at Walmart, said in a statement. “Vaccinations to achieve widespread immunity are important for re-opening across the country. We’re proud to work together with the federal government, states, communities, customers and associates to reach that goal.”
Walmart and Sam’s pharmacies are partnering with CDC and states to administer coronavirus inoculations to eligible populations in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. The company said that, among those states, it will be the sole preferred pharmacy partner under the federal program in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, Tennessee and Wyoming. Store locations offering COVID vaccines are listed at corporate.walmart.com/COVID-vaccine.
Publix this week said coronavirus vaccines became available at 593 pharmacies in Florida and 61 in Georgia. (Photo courtesy of Publix)
“Our top priority is to vaccinate as many people as we can in Tennessee, and Walmart is a great large-scale partner to help reach that goal,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee stated. “Due to the large footprint of Walmart stores across our state, we will be able to reach residents quickly and provide equitable and accessible vaccine distribution. We’re proud to partner with Walmart and know their expertise and geographic footprint will help boost our vaccine rollout and vaccination rates.”
The number of vaccinations will be limited, but availability is expected to continue to increase each week, according to Walmart. Eligible customers will be able schedule vaccination appointments directly via the Walmart and Sam’s Club websites once time slots become available. Sam’s Club isn’t requiring a membership to receive a vaccination at its pharmacies. The online scheduler also will send an alert when it’s time to return for the second vaccine. Walmart added that it also plans to partner with other providers and organizations to expand access to offsite COVID immunization clinics.
Outside clinics are expected to play a growing role in U.S. coronavirus vaccine distribution. Hy-Vee, for one, announced Wednesday that in Iowa it’s partnering with the Polk County Health Department, Drake University’s College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa to host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for about 1,000 Polk County educators.
The clinic will be held at the Gregory and Suzie Glazer Burt Club on the Drake University campus in Hy-Vee’s hometown of Des Moines on Feb. 13. Those eligible to receive a vaccine, according to state guidelines, include PK-12 school staff, early childhood education and child care workers. Hy-Vee pharmacy and Drake University pharmacists and pharmacy students will administer the shots. Appointments can be made at hy-vee.com/my-pharmacy/covid-vaccine-consent, and second-dose appointments will be scheduled onsite.
Hy-Vee, the Polk County Health Department and Drake University began their COVID-19 vaccination partnership in early January when they announced the opening of a vaccine clinic at The Harkin Center on Drake University’s campus.
Today, Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix reopened its online vaccination reservation system at publix.com/covidvaccine for Florida residents after receiving a new shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Including doses provided by the state and the federal government, Publix now will have COVID shots available at 593 in-store pharmacies in 41 Florida counties.
Appointments are now available for Feb. 12 to 14, according to Publix. The online reservation system will be open two more times for the latest vaccine allocation: on Feb. 12 (for Feb. 15 and 16 appointments) and Feb. 15 (for Feb. 17 and 18 appointments). In line with with the state guidelines, the vaccines are being provided to seniors only.
“With the addition of doses provided by the federal government, we are able to offer more Florida residents the opportunity to be vaccinated,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. “It is our privilege to serve during this time as we all work together to reduce the impact of the coronavirus in the state of Florida.”
Publix pharmacies also have administered COVID‑19 vaccines to eligible individuals in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia. The company said Wednesday that another 61 pharmacies in 26 Georgia counties will begin administering vaccinations on Feb. 13 to first responders, health care workers, seniors and their caregivers, and residents and staff of long-term care facilities, as per state guidelines. The online reservation system will open on Feb. 11 to accept appointments.