Pharmacies now offering COVID-19 vaccines: Here’s what you need to know

Pharmacies now offering COVID-19 vaccines: Here’s what you need to know

(CBS News) - The effort to immunize more Americans from the deadly coronavirus now includes major retail pharmacy chains.

National drugstore chains CVS Health and Walgreens are among the more than 20 major retailers getting supplies of COVID-19 vaccinations from the federal government this week. But getting an immunization shot is not as easy as walking through the pharmacy door — and consumers are being urged not to do that, but instead to get in line by making an appointment online or the phone.

All told, the federal government is partnering with 21 national pharmacy chains and independent networks to increase access to COVID-19 vaccination across the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pharmacies taking part vary by state, with the CDC offering a state-by-state accounting of which retailers will be getting vaccine this week.

In Alabama, for example, Walmart pharmacies will get getting federal shipments of the vaccine, while in California, it’s CVS and Rite Aid. Shipments of the vaccine are going to Hy-Vee and CPESN USA locations in Iowa, and to Albertsons, Costco and Health Mart pharmacies in Washington state. Look up your state here.

Walgreens and CVS Health

Walgreens plans to give a limited count of COVID-19 vaccinations across 15 states and jurisdictions as part of the federal program starting Friday, with healthcare workers, those 65 and older and people with pre-existing conditions among the potential candidates, depending on state guidelines. Consumers can use Walgreens’ appointment scheduler here, although the system was reportedly experiencing a temporary outage on Tuesday.

The CDC will be shipping a limited number of doses to Walgreens in Chicago and other parts of Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York and New York City, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia. The company is also administering the vaccine with local allotments in parts of Arkansas, California, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas, it said.

Initially slated to begin on Thursday, CVS bumped the start of its in-pharmacy vaccination effort to Friday at a limited number of locations in 11 states, with the company’s scheduling system slated to open on CVS.com or the CVS Pharmacy app on Thursday. Those without online access can call (800) 746-4287.

“Because active stores will change regularly based on vaccine supply, CVS Health will not provide a full list of participating locations,” it said in an update on Monday.

CVS’ initial rollout will involve about 250,000 total doses to be given to eligible people in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Separately, CVS is using state allocations of the vaccine to offer in-store vaccinations to eligible populations in Indiana and Ohio.

“As more supply becomes available the company will expand to additional states while increasing the number of stores offering vaccinations,” said the chain, which operates nearly 10,000 pharmacies nationwide.

Walmart, Sam’s Club and Rite Aid

More than 1,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in 22 states are getting federal vaccine allocations this week, with the shots slated to be given starting on Friday. That includes 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 retailing giant is also giving vaccinations using state allocation in 11 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. You can see if a Walmart pharmacy near you is administering the COVID-19 vaccine here and confirm eligibility and schedule an appointment here. 

“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, Walmart’s executive vice president, Health & Wellness, said Tuesday in a news release.

Rite Aid is receiving federal doses at some of its pharmacies in five states and two municipal jurisdictions: California, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and its largest city, Philadelphia, and New York City, a spokesperson said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. “These allocations will supplement existing and ongoing state and local allocations,” he added.

The Rite Aid chain, which operates 2,450 stores in 18 states, has limited information on registering for a vaccination here.

Publix, Costco and Kroger

Publix on Tuesday said it was opening appointments on Wednesday to administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to eligible individuals at 593 Publix pharmacies in 41 Florida counties, using doses provided by the state and federal government. Publix pharmacies have also given the vaccine to people in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia. The company’s online reservation system can be found here.

Costco is offering a limited number of COVID-19 vaccines, typically Moderna, at some locations in New York City, Oregon, Puerto Rico and Washington, the warehouse club said Friday in an update on its website.

Kroger pharmacies have a limited supply of the vaccine and are offering it now at some locations in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin, according to an update late Monday. Consumers can check appointment availability here.

Kroger — the nation’s largest grocery chain — in December said its health unit would be offering the vaccine at its 2,200 pharmacies and 220 clinics in 35 states.

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