Feb 2, 2021 - Health

Biden administration will ship COVID vaccine directly to pharmacies

Coordinator of Covid-19 response and counselor to the President Jeff Zients

Coordinator of COVID-19 response and counselor to President Biden Jeff Zients. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

More than 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be made available to about 6,500 pharmacies across the U.S. beginning Feb. 11, the White House said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Local, national and supermarket pharmacies have an existing customer base, user portals and other established resources when it comes to mass flu and shingles immunization protocols. The federal government hopes this will expand access and speed up the vaccination process.

Yes, but: The demand for vaccine in these new channels is expected to far outweigh the supply, COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said in a press briefing Tuesday.

The state of play: The million doses are in addition to the 10.5 million doses that are scheduled to go to states, and other jurisdictions.

  • Eventually the federal government wants to reach 40,000 pharmacies to provide vaccinations.

The big picture: The U.S. government on Jan. 12 started to encourage states to open up vaccination eligibility to those 65 and older, and those 16 and older with certain medical conditions — or a third of the U.S. population.

What they're saying: "Millions of Americans turn to their local pharmacies every day for their medicines, flu shots, and much more. And pharmacies are readily accessible in most communities with most Americans living within five miles of a pharmacy," Zients said.

  • "People should first make sure they meet their state's eligibility requirements for vaccinations and then check availability on their local pharmacy's website. Equity is at the core of how the centers for disease control is working with states to select pharmacy partners for this first phase," he added.
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