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HHS partners with chain and independent pharmacies to increase access to future COVID-19 vaccines

The agreement leverages existing private sector infrastructure, since the majority of the public lives within five miles of a pharmacy.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Nineteen pharmacies have partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services for consumer access to a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available.

The program covers approximately 60% of pharmacies throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  

Through the partnerships with network administrators, independent pharmacies and regional chains will also be part of the federal pharmacy program, further increasing access to a vaccine across the country – particularly in traditionally underserved areas, HHS said.

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In addition to traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies, pharmacists, pharmacy interns and pharmacy technicians also provide vaccinations in retail and grocery stores.

WHY THIS MATTERS

By working with these partners, the federal government will rapidly expand access to COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines will be administered at partners' pharmacy locations at no cost to patients.

Pharmacies that do not participate in the federal allocation program are encouraged to coordinate with their jurisdiction's health department to become COVID-19 vaccine providers.

PHARMACIES 

The pharmacies that have signed on as of November 6 are:

  • Albertsons Companies, Inc. (incl., Osco, Jewel-Osco, Albertsons, Albertsons Market, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Star Market, Shaws, Haggen, Acme, Randalls, Carrs, Market Street, United, Vons, Pavilions, Amigos, Lucky's, Pak n Save, and Sav-On)
  • Costco Wholesale Corp.
  • CPESN USA, LLC
  • CVS Pharmacy, Inc. (incl. Long's)
  • Good Neighbor Pharmacy and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation's PSAO, Elevate Provider
  • Health Mart Systems, Inc.
  • H-E-B, LP
  • Hy-Vee, Inc.
  • LeaderNET and Medicine Shoppe, Cardinal Health's PSAOs
  • Managed Health Care Associates (MHA)
  • Meijer Inc.
  • Publix Super Markets, Inc.
  • Retail Business Services, LLC (incl., Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Company, Hannaford Bros., and Stop & Shop)
  • Rite Aid Corp.
  • The Kroger Co. (incl., Kroger, Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, Frys, Ralphs, King Soopers, Smiths, City Market, Dillons, Marianos, Pick-n-Save, Copps, Metro Market)
  • Topco Associates, LLC (incl. Big-Y Pharmacy and Wellness Center, Brookshire's Pharmacy, Super One Pharmacy, FRESH by Brookshire's Pharmacy, Coborn's Pharmacy, Cash Wise Pharmacy, MarketPlace Pharmacy, Hartig Drug Company, King Kullen, Food City Pharmacy, Ingles Pharmacy, Raley's, Bel Air, Nob Hill Pharmacies, Save Mart Pharmacies, Lucky Pharmacies, SpartanNash, Price Chopper, Market 32, Tops Friendly Markets, ShopRite, Wegmans, Weis Markets and Acme Fresh Markets)
  • Walgreens (incl. Duane Reade)
  • Walmart, Inc. (incl. Sam's Club)
  • Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. (incl. Winn-Dixie, Harveys, and Fresco Y Mas)

THE LARGER TREND

Currently, there are no COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized or approved by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to the CDC.  

The pharmacy partnership is being established in anticipation that one or more COVID-19 vaccines will be authorized or approved and recommended for use in the United States before the end of 2020, HHS said.

The partnership is part of Operation Warp Speed, which brings together components of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense, engaging with private firms and other federal agencies, and coordinating among existing HHS-wide efforts to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.

ON THE RECORD

"Since 2012, CDC has worked extensively with pharmacies to improve pandemic preparedness, conduct vaccine throughput exercises, and assess store and organizational response capabilities," said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield.  "Through these partnerships, we will leverage established relationships to support our critical public health mission of vaccinating the American public to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

"Ensuring access and affordability of the COVID-19 vaccine for all Americans is a top priority for the Trump Administration," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "We are leveraging the existing private sector infrastructure to get safe and effective vaccines supported by Operation Warp Speed into communities and into arms as quickly as possible with no out-of-pocket costs. 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."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com