- Kroger Health announced on Thursday it has ramped up its operational capacity to administer 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines weekly.
- Beginning this week, Kroger plans to use the first hour of pharmacy operations to administer COVID-19 vaccines, first in Ohio and then in additional states to follow next week. Kroger will also launch 100 mass vaccination off-site events beginning this month across the U.S., starting in Kentucky and Ohio.
- These efforts will double the number of vaccinations Kroger said earlier this year that it could give weekly if all of its pharmacies had a supply of doses.
As vaccine accessibility and supply increases, Kroger will soon reach “full capacity” for COVID-19 inoculations across its 2,250 pharmacy and 220 clinic locations in addition to off-site events, Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, said in the press release.
Kroger, which started administering the vaccines in December, has led the charge in the grocery industry to expand access to COVID-19 testing. Now, with the ability to soon administer 1 million weekly doses, Kroger has taken a leading position on inoculations following a slow initial rollout of vaccines.
Last month, Kroger rolled out a scheduling tool allowing people to check their vaccination eligibility and, once eligible, book appointments concurrently for their first and second doses. Currently, Kroger is administering the three vaccines authorized by the FDA.
Kroger's announcement comes as access to COVID-19 vaccines continues to expand nationwide. The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval to Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine late last month. The Biden administration has said there will be enough vaccines for every American by the end of May.
Like Kroger, other retailers are looking beyond their pharmacies to boost vaccination rates. In late February, Walmart announced it will have 43 community vaccine events across 18 states, including drive-thru locations outside Walmart stores, in-store locations and off-site events in collaboration with local organizations. Meijer has set up in-store vaccination clinics, including ones it hosted this week that will provide more than 10,000 doses to teachers in Indiana.
Albertsons has hosted off-site vaccine clinics, including one at a fairgrounds in Washington state that administered more than 25,000 doses. The grocer announced this week it has so far completed more than 1 million COVID-19 vaccinations.
Kroger also used the announcement to urge elected officials to make grocery workers eligible sooner for the shots. Lindholz said the company is "hopeful the additional inventory will speed up the rollout guidelines to create greater access," with states so far offering wide-ranging availability for frontline grocery workers. Some states, like Maryland, have already begun vaccinating grocery workers, while other states have yet to start or have not yet classified these workers under their vaccination plans. Tennessee says it won't begin vaccinating grocery workers until Q3.