The Biden administration announced last week that it will begin distributing a limited number of Covid-19 vaccine doses directly to retail pharmacies across the nation.
Many pharmacies are already administering vaccine doses that have been allocated to states. Under the new program, the federal government would ship doses directly to pharmacies. The new pharmacy initiative — which is aimed at broadening access to vaccines generally — is separate from an ongoing federal program to have Walgreens and CVS vaccinate residents of long-term care facilities.
The program will ship roughly one million doses per week to about 6,500 pharmacies across the U.S. as a trial run, beginning Feb. 11. They also will boost shipments to states by 5% to 10.5 million doses per week, up from the 10 million doses that were announced a week earlier.
The pharmacies providing vaccines at stores include CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, and Costco, as well as networks of independent operators. Not all the chains will immediately be taking part in every state, the White House said.
At least one participant, CVS Health, plans to begin offering vaccinations to “eligible populations” using doses from the federal program on the first day, Feb. 11. The pharmacy chain expects to receive about 250,000 doses that will be rolled out at approximately 330 stores across 11 states including California, Texas, Virginia, and New York.
Another participant, Walgreens, will begin using its federal doses on Feb. 12.
The Biden administration is treating the first weeks of the program as a dry run to test if the federal pharmacy program will work before scaling it up, according to one source familiar with planning discussions.