- Kroger Health, the health care division of the U.S.’s largest grocery store chain, announced Tuesday it will give COVID-19 vaccines nationwide at its 2,200 pharmacies and 220 clinics, following state and federal inoculation plans.
- As it prepares to administer the vaccines, Kroger Health is hiring close to 1,000 health care professionals, including pharmacy technicians. The company will also train existing associates on vaccination procedures.
- Vaccinations from the grocery company are underway this week, starting with health care workers in Anchorage and Juneau, Alaska, according to the announcement, which noted that the company is “engaged in vaccination efforts for prioritized populations in several other geographies.”
Kroger is among the list of grocers, including Albertsons, Publix and Ahold Delhaize, whose pharmacies will administer COVID-19 vaccines through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ShopRite announced Monday that it had joined the government’s coronavirus vaccine rollout and will offer the shot at select pharmacy locations.
“The size and scale of our health care operation provides us with the unique ability to efficiently facilitate COVID-19 testing and immunize a large portion of the U.S. population, once the authorized vaccines become more widely available,” Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, said in the announcement.
In addition to adding employees, grocers are also working to figure out how to keep shoppers and workers safe, especially with socially distancing indoors. Meijer, for example, said it is looking to capitalize on its extra-large store formats to safely implement large-scale vaccine clinics.
Two COVID-19 vaccines — one from Moderna and another from Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech — have received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Currently, health care workers and long-term care facility residents across the country are receiving the vaccine. On Sunday, an advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that grocery workers be included in the next wave of vaccinations slated to take place early next year.
Throughout the pandemic, Kroger has played a leading role among grocers in expanding access to COVID-19 testing. Since April, Kroger Health has given more than 250,000 COVID-19 tests, according to the announcement. The retailer also rolled out rapid antibody tests, which test for prior infection of the virus, and offers ship-to-home COVID-19 testing kits.