- Hy-Vee is looking to hire 1,000 full- and part-time pharmacy technicians as it bolsters its operations in anticipation of administering COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks, the grocer announced on Friday.
- The grocer’s efforts to expand its pharmacy staff follows its November designation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a COVID-19 vaccine provider.
- Like other grocery stores that operate pharmacies, Hy-Vee has emerged as a key player in the national effort to test people for COVID-19 and prepare for the distribution of inoculations against the virus.
Hy-Vee’s decision to embark on a hiring spree for its healthcare operations is part of a broad effort by the grocery industry to help people in the United States contend with the pandemic. Multiple supermarket chains, including Hy-Vee, have been providing COVID-19 tests and are now signaling their readiness to distribute COVID-19 shots.
Hy-Vee is among the list of pharmacy operators, including Kroger, Albertsons and H-E-B, that have agreed to partner with the federal government to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Other food retailers on that list include Costco, Meijer, Publix, Walmart and Winn-Dixie. Moderna and Pfizer are awaiting approval for their shots from the Food and Drug Administration, and U.S. health officials have said 100 million people across the country could get vaccinated by the end of February.
Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said during a TV interview on CNBC last Thursday that the grocer has been preparing for weeks to distribute COVID-19 vaccines at its pharmacies and is "ready and anxious to get started." Texas grocer H-E-B has also signaled that it is ready to deliver coronavirus vaccines, Click2Houston.com reported.
In a reflection of the key role grocery stores are playing to help communities contend with the pandemic, Hy-Vee has recently expanded the number of locations where it offers free, drive-thru COVID-19 testing to 180, citing high demand. Hy-Vee, which runs more than 270 pharmacies in eight Midwestern states, is partnering with eTrueNorth, a company that works with pharmacies to provide healthcare services to consumers, on the tests.
People can register online for a COVID-19 test at a Hy-Vee location. Testing results are available within three to five business days, according to Hy-Vee.
In September, Albertsons said it would make at-home test kits for the disease available at its pharmacies this autumn following a pilot at pharmacies in Texas and Idaho. Kroger, which also offers COVID-19 tests, announced in October that it would offer COVID-19 antibody tests, which can indicate if a person has been infected by the virus, at all of the chain’s more than 2,200 pharmacies and 220 health clinics.