Jul 1, 2021 - Health

COVID vaccines boost Walgreens

A blue sign advertising COVID vaccines in front of a Walgreens booth.

Walgreens said pharmacy profit margins soared due to the vaccines. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Walgreens has given out 25 million COVID-19 vaccinations in its stores this year, including 17 million from March through May.

Why it matters: Walgreens executives said the vaccines were the main reason why the company recorded higher foot traffic, sales and profits in the quarter. But this boost may be short-lived, as demand for vaccines has slowed down considerably since late April.

By the numbers: COVID-19 shots are free for people to get, but insurance programs still pay for the shots' administration.

  • Medicare pays $40 for each COVID-19 vaccine dose, and commercial insurers likely pay more (if flu shots are any indication).
  • That means, at a minimum, Walgreens registered at least $680 million in COVID-19 vaccine payments in the last quarter and possibly as much as $1 billion or more.
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