Retail Pharmacies Nationwide Enlisted For COVID-19 Immunization Effort
Centers for Disease Control Making Plans For National COVID-19 Immunization Program
In anticipation of COVID-19 vaccines successfully completing clinical trials and being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)and other government agencies are orchestrating a plan to quickly distribute and administer it.
Stage one of the CDC’s national COVID-19 immunization plan
The vision of the CDC strategy is to have two phases. First, prioritize COVID-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers and high-risk populations living in long term care/skilled nursing facilities and assisted living communities. The CDC has designated these immunizations to be administered by hospitals, clinics and other providers to their staff members. Walgreens and CVS plus other select pharmacies will have staff on-site at long term care/skilled nursing facilities to vaccinate staff and the residents/patients they care for.
Stage two of the CDC’s national COVID-19 immunization plan
On a larger scale to immunize the general public, a larger number of pharmacies will be participating in the national COVID-19 immunization program. They include:
- Costco (NASDAQ: COST)
- CVS (NYSE: CVS)*
- Kroger (NYSE: KR)
- Publix (privately held)
- Target* (NYSE: TGT)
- Walgreens (NASDAQ: WBA)
- Walmart (NYSE: WMT)
*CVS owns/operates the pharmacies located within Target stores and presumably, they will be administering COVID-19 vaccines at those stores as well.
Pharmacies will be required to follow CDC program guidelines
The retailers listed above and other pharmacies that choose to participate will have to follow strict measures defined by the CDC to administer the vaccines. They will be required to file contract agreements with the CDC that provide information about their pharmacy locations and their ability to safely maintain vaccine inventories through refrigerated means.
The participating pharmacies will order the vaccines from the government and maintain daily reports as to how many patients they immunized and what their ongoing inventory of the vaccine is. This is especially critical as some of the vaccines currently in clinical trials will require patients to receive 2 separate doses injected weeks or months apart.
Retail pharmacies are essential to community access to care
The CDC’s goals are to ensure that as many citizens as possible are safely immunized quickly and if necessary, receive their second dose of vaccine within the appropriate timeframe. Utilizing retail pharmacies prevents physician offices from being overrun with persons seeking to be vaccinated and allows them to care for patients through their normal routines.
A sizable number of retail pharmacies are already administering numerous types of vaccines to their customers. Many of their pharmacists are already trained in administering immunizations. These include seasonal and non-seasonal vaccinations such as:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
- Meningococcal (meningitis)
- Pneumococcal (pneumonia)
- Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Td/Tdap)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- Zoster (shingles)
U.S. government absorbing the costs
The national program will not charge pharmacies for the vaccines and they will be reimbursed for their services. Patients receiving the immunizations will not be charged for them. Some of the manufacturers with COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials have already been producing them in large volumes which is known as “building at risk” so that once they are approved, substantial quantities of product can be made available to the public quickly.
The combination of clinical knowledge, commercial strategy and the community connection position retail pharmacists as the ideal conduits to efficiently and safely administer millions of Americans quickly to thwart the advance of the pandemic.
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