- Kroger, Albertsons, Publix, Ahold Delhaize and Hy-Vee are among the list of grocers whose pharmacies will administer COVID-19 vaccines free of charge once they’re available through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency announced Thursday.
- The partnership with private pharmacies, which also includes major chains Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid, will cover approximately 60% of pharmacy locations across the continental U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the announcement noted.
- In a separate announcement, Albertsons, which operates over 1,700 pharmacies, said that consumers will be able to fill out consent forms available in the company’s pharmacy app.
The HHS partnership includes all major national and regional grocers that operate pharmacies. In the announcement, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said linking up with private pharmacies is a key step in administering eventual vaccines to millions of Americans.
“The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, and our new agreement with pharmacy partners across America is a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available,” he said.
The agency noted that no vaccines have yet been authorized or approved by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The new partnership is being established in anticipation of having one or more vaccines authorized or approved and ready to administer before the end of the year.
Earlier this week, drug company Pfizer reported that a vaccine it had developed along with German developer BioNTech was more than 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 compared to a placebo. The companies are expected to soon submit results to the FDA for emergency authorization use — a process that is expected to take one to two weeks.
Even after receiving full approval, though, the companies face the daunting challenge of distributing the vaccine, which is administered through two separate injections, to clinics, pharmacies, hospitals and other locations across the country, Supply Chain Dive reported.
Pfizer and BioNTech officials estimate they’ll be able to make a limited number of doses this year — around 50 million — and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021. Because each individual requires two shots, 50 million doses would cover 25 million people.
In addition to keeping Americans’ pantries stocked, retailers have played a key role in COVID-19 testing. Kroger and Walmart have provided drive-up testing during the pandemic, and Kroger has also provided home testing kits for consumers, including an antibody test it rolled out last month. Albertsons also provides home testing kits.