- Supermarkets operated by grocers including Kroger, Publix, Albertsons and Hy-Vee are among the locations where people will be able to receive COVID-19 shots through a new federal effort to accelerate vaccinations by distributing doses directly to pharmacies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is coordinating the program.
- Pharmacies participating in the initiative will follow state eligibility criteria to determine how to allocate the vaccine supplies they receive, the CDC said. People will be able to receive vaccinations through the program starting Feb. 11.
- Supermarket chains are playing a central role as the Biden administration looks to eliminate bottlenecks in the race to immunize the U.S. population against COVID-19.
The CDC’s program to speed up the distribution of coronavirus shots, known as the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination, is part of an effort by the new administration to distribute 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first 100 days of President Joe Biden’s term.
But even as grocers publicize their involvement in the latest phase of the government’s mass vaccination campaign — the heart of the national campaign to stop the pandemic — they are cautioning customers that getting an appointment to receive a shot is likely to remain difficult until supplies become more readily available. The CDC also emphasized that it will take time for vaccine supplies to increase.
Grocers have spent the past few weeks underscoring their ability to distribute large numbers of vaccinations, and they have talked up their involvement in the government-led effort to inoculate people against COVID-19 even as they warn that the shots are in short supply.
“Through our preparation efforts, we have the ability to start vaccinating eligible populations less than 24 hours after receiving allocations," Randy Edeker, CEO of Hy-Vee, said in a statement. "The issue to date has been demand far exceeding supply, and we believe this partnership helps strengthen our advocacy efforts to receive more of the vaccine.”
Hy-Vee announced in December that it intended to hire 1,000 pharmacy technicians.
In addition to Kroger, Publix, Albertsons and Hy-Vee, food retailers involved in the new CDC vaccine-distribution program include Meijer, H-E-B, Ahold Delhaize, Walmart, Southeastern Grocers and Costco. Grocers that are part of the Topco cooperative are also participating in the program.
In a blog post announcing Walmart’s participation in the program, the retailer’s vice president of health and wellness operations, Amanda Jenkins, said 90% of the nation’s population lives within 10 miles of a Walmart location. Walmart also underscored the breadth of its operations in January when it posted a blog highlighting its ability to distribute vaccinations to underserved populations.