RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — A week after CVS pharmacies began vaccinating Virginians, the state has announced a new batch of large retailers expected to join them in the COVID-19 vaccination effort.
During a conference call Friday, Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s vaccination coordinator, said that Walgreens, Walmart, Food Lion, Kroger, Harris Teeter, as well as a batch of other independent pharmacies, will split the 26,000 additional doses being sent the week of Feb. 21 to the state as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
CVS will continue administering their 26,000 doses a week. Avula said it will result in at least 52,000 doses a week being given out at pharmacies in the state.
“It’s an exciting step to bring more doses into Virginia,” Avula said.
What Avula didn’t know on Friday is what process a person will go through to receive the vaccine, which locations would receive supply, and who would be eligible.
“All of the pharmacy partners we have added have all said ‘Yes we are absolutely willing to work with you,'” Avula explained.
Avula has previously criticized CVS’s vaccination program for not allowing “equitable access.” Currently to get a vaccine with the retail giant, one must be lucky enough to be online at the time an appointment becomes available.
Virginia’s new pre-registration site and call center allows people to request a vaccine at any time. Health department workers or providers then schedule appointments based on priority groups.
Plans initially called for CVS to only vaccinate people on Virginia’s massive registration list, however, the scheduling portals did not work with each other.
Avula expressed that the department of health is determined to find a way around the technological issues.
“The intent is certainly to have those folks who have been waiting on our pre-registration list prioritized,” Avula said about the new pharmacy partners. “It could be us just downloading our pre-registered list and handing it to them and them making appointments.”
A Walgreens spokesperson confirmed Friday that appointments will be available “in the next week” in Virginia. More updates and information will be released as they’re available.
Walgreens had initially started in-store vaccinations on Feb. 12 in 17 states, including North Carolina, and administered nearly all of its 180,000 allotted doses within three days. The registration for the vaccine in North Carolina started three days before, on Feb. 9.
Walgreens announced in its own release Friday that it will being hosting vaccination clinics in underserved communities in addition to vaccinations at its stores as part of its vaccine equity efforts. That includes allocating nearly half of doses to Walgreens stores located in Medical Underserved Areas (MUAs) and areas with a high social vulnerability index score.
The Biden administration announced the week of Feb. 14 that weekly doses going out to federal pharmacy partners will double from 1 million to 2 million.
Walgreens will get 480,000 vaccines that it will allocate to stores in Arizona, Alaska, California, Chicago, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, New York City, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The distribution is still expected to happen by Thursday, Feb. 25, but the U.S. is seeing delays overall due to the winter weather affecting most of the country. About 6 million doses could face a three-day delay, White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt said.
Walgreens and CVS were in charge of vaccinating nearly all of the country’s long-term care facilities (nursing homes). Walgreens says it’s already provided more than 3 million doses nationwide to these facilities to date.
More than 1 million Virginians (12.8% of the population) had at least one dose as of Friday, Feb. 19, per the Virginia Department of Health.
The full list of federal pharmacy partners listed for Virginia, include:
- Albertsons Companies, Inc.
- CVS Pharmacy, Inc.
- The Kroger Co.
- Walmart, Inc.
- Topco Associates, LLC (which includes grocers such as Giant Eagle, Save Mart Pharmacies, Wegmans,…)
- CPESN USA, LLC
If you are interested in getting vaccinated at a participating pharmacy, check the pharmacy’s website to find out if the COVID-19 vaccine is available and if you are eligible for vaccination.
Click here for more information on the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.