Pharmacies across the U.S. may be able administer up to 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine per month later this year, under a federal program to ramp up immunizations.
Starting on February 11, the Biden administration will start shipping vials directly to major outlets such as CVS Health. Walgreens Co, Walmart Inc, Rite Aid Co and Costco Wholesale, as well as supermarket pharmacies.
Some 6,500 retail pharmacies around the country will receive a total of one million doses, with plans to eventually reach 40,000 pharmacy locations nationwide
Drug stores have become a mainstay for flu shots and shingles vaccines, and the industry is capable of vaccinating tens of millions of people monthly.
But some public health experts say that pharmacies, especially large chains, have the capacity to administer as many 3.3 million shots per day as soon as the supply becomes available, according to CNN.
It comes as the White House revealed on Friday that the Pentagon will be deploying 1,000 troops to assist getting Americans vaccinated against COVID-19.
On February 11, the Biden administration ship one million doses per week to U.S. pharmacies such as CVS Health. Walgreens Co and Walmart Inc
Experts say that if all 40,000 locations receive enough supply, they will be able to vaccinate 3.3 million people per day or 100 million per month, and help surpass Biden’s goal of 1.5 millions shots in arms perday
CVS has said it will be able to administer between 20 and 25 million doses per month and Walgreens has said it will be able to administer 10 to 13 million. So far, only about 32 million have received one or both shots.
‘Based on conservative assumptions, pharmacies have the capacity to meet the demand for 100 million vaccine doses in one month when that level of the vaccine supply is available,’ Steven Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, told reporters on a phone call last month.
The first phase involves vaccines being sent to pharmacies and states selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This is based on ‘their ability to reach some of the populations most at risk for severe illness from Covid-19, including socially vulnerable communities,’ Jeff Zients, coordinator of the president’s COVID-19 task force, said earlier this week.
Every pharmacy will be following the federal and state guidelines and only vaccinating those who are eligible under the state-mandated order.
CVS plans to begin offering vaccinations from doses that arrive on the first day, February 11
The pharmacy is expecting 250,000 doses arriving at 330 stores across 11 states including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
Meanwhile, Walgreens said it will begin administering doses the day after shipments arrive, February 12, across 15 states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia, and Puerto Rico.
Although not every single pharmacy in the aforementioned states will have the vaccine, more doses will be come available as the program expands.
Walmart will be offering the vaccines at its store in states such as Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Louisiana and Wyoming.
Last month, Walmart said that ‘when supply and allocations allow’ it will be able to administer between 10 and 13 million doses per month across 5,000 locations.
CVS has said that across its 10,000 sores, it projects it will be able to administer between 20 million and 25 million shots per month across its nearly 10,000 stores.
According to a model by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, it suggests that when the program expands to 40,000 pharmacies, they will be able to vaccine 3.3 million per day, CNN reports.
The group says this means seven people per hour or between 99 million and 102.8 million vaccinations per day.
The model does not include independent pharmacies, although the National Community Pharmacists Association believe that if all 17,000 locations had vaccines, they would be able to administer 1.28 million per day, according to CNN.
Doses are being sent to 6,500 pharmacies and, if successful, this will expand to 40,000 drug stores across the country. Pictured: Pharmacist John Forbes gives the Moderna GOVID-19 vaccine to Meghan Bohlander, a physician’s assistant, at the Medicap Pharmacy in Urbandale, Iowa, January 2021
So far, more than 57 million vaccines have been distributed with 27 million people receiving at least one dose and more than 6.9 million at least two doses
To help reach this goal, CVS plans to have 90,000 employees, including pharmacists, licensed pharmacy technicians and nurses, administering vaccines.
And Walmart is currently offering staff members a bonus for referring qualified candidates for vaccine administration.
So far, the federal government has shipped more than 57 million vaccines with 27 receiving at least one dose and more than 6.9 million at least two doses.
The two currently approved vaccines, from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, require special cold storage.
And, since the rollout began in December, chains like CVS and Walgreens have gained experience with the special handling requirements.
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration is weighing approval of a vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, a one-shot regimen that requires only standard refrigeration.
The world at large is in a race with the virus to vaccinate as many people as possible. Worrisome mutations have been identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil.
Officials say the race to ramp up vaccinations is vital with variants from the UK, South Africa and Brazil spreading across the county
The UK variant spreads more easily and carries a higher likelihood of fatal disease. The South Africa variant may reduce somewhat the effectiveness of vaccines. All three mutations have been identified in the U.S. with a total of at least 482 cases.
The vaccine is free to Americans, thanks to legislation passed by Congress.
More than 60 percent of the distributed doses have been administered so far, a marked improvement from just a few weeks ago.
Even with the massive snowstorm that hit the Northeast this week and closed several vaccination sites, Zients said ‘all vaccine does have been available to the states on schedule.’
But he acknowledged some vaccination centers have had to temporarily close due to the weather.
Pentagon deploys 1,000 troops across the US to help states with COVID-19 vaccinations
By Natalie Rahhal, US Health Editor for DailyMail.com
The Pentagon will deploy more than 1,000 troops to assist getting Americans vaccinated against COVID-19, the White House said Friday.
Coronavirus senior adviser Andy Slavitt announced that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a request for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Only 8.7 percent of the US population has gotten one or more dose so far and the US is giving an average of 1.7 million shots a day, according got Bloomberg data.
President Joe Biden has called for setting up 100 mass vaccination centers around the country within a month.
Slavitt said the troops will be deployed across the country, but only specified one state where they will be sent: California.
The hard-hit state is seeing an average of 18,000 new infections a day – although they are declining – but just 1.6 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated with two doses of the shot. It ranks 27th in the nation for the pace of its rollout.
Two are opening there, and Slavitt said military personnel will arrive at those centers in the next 10 days, and start vaccinating by February 13.
The White House also announced that the Defense Production Act is being invoked to ramp up the production of Pfizer’s vaccine. Officials did not specify by how much its assistance would raise the company’s manufacturing capacity.