Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies have worked with school districts in seven states to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to adolescents.
Del Sloneker, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart U.S. Health & Wellness, said in a blog post on Thursday that Walmart and Sam’s Club so far have coordinated Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine clinics in dozens of communities in Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Pennsylvania.
“We’ve administered thousands of vaccines to date through these efforts and are planning to partner with additional educators to bring our clinics to even more students and families in the coming weeks,” Sloneker said.
The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on May 10 for use in children ages 12 to 15. Two days later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the vaccine’s use for that age group. Pfizer’s vaccination requires two shots given 21 days apart.
“The clinics provide a familiar setting for adolescents to get vaccinated at their school, as well as a convenient location for parents,” noted Sloneker. “The clinics are staffed with the same trusted, trained pharmacy staff who support our store pharmacies. It’s a win-win for both families and communities as we work to provide access to the vaccine and end the pandemic.”
Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacy staff faced some hurdles in administering the Pfizer COVID vaccine in a school environment. Sloneker said they had to bring cold storage units on-site to safely transport the doses — Pfizer’s vaccine comes frozen at very low temperatures and then must be thawed before injection — as well as implement a system to gather parental consent and train pharmacists to deal with potential vaccine hesitancy.
“Setting up a vaccine clinic in a school requires some complex logistics navigation, and I am so proud of our Walmart team, who has risen to the challenges before them as they administer vaccines in many venues, including pharmacies and through community events,” Sloneker wrote in the blog.
“We look forward to supporting clinics with additional schools across the country,” he added. “With every vaccine administered, we get one step closer to our schools, communities and the country fully reopening,”
Through the morning of May 27, 49.9% of the U.S. population had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, with 40% fully immunized, according to CDC data. Among adults, 62% had received at least one dose, with 50.6% fully vaccinated. And including adolescent vaccinations, 59.1% of Americans ages 12 and older had gotten at least one shot, with 47.4% fully vaccinated). Overall, 290.7 million of the 361.3 million vaccines delivered by manufacturers had been administered.
“From the moment the clinic opened, I was thrilled with its execution,” Kimberly Minor, superintendent of Exeter Township School District in Reading, Pa., commented on Walmart’s recent COVID vaccine clinic in her district. “Everyone who came into the clinic was not only treated with courtesy and competence, but with genuine kindness and respect. I received numerous compliments on the team’s professionalism and how they went above and beyond to make each client feel at ease. I saw them work with clients with significant physical, intellectual and emotional challenges, and in each case, they took the time and showed the compassion and patience needed to successfully vaccinate each one.”