COVID-19 vaccine shipped to US pharmacies


Anna Kate Munsey

A new public-private partnership aims to provide doses of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine directly to pharmacies nationwide.  

Last week, the Biden administration announced they will ship doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to retail pharmacies across the U.S. The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination includes pharmacy chains such as Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, and many more. The plan emphasizes that not all pharmacy locations in all states will receive doses in the initial stage.  

Politico reported that the Biden administration is using the first couple weeks of the initiative as a dry run – to see if it is working before scaling up the amounts. The initiative cuts out any “middle ground,” shipping the doses directly to the pharmacies.  

“This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities,” said Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus response coordinator. He said around 6,500 stores will receive doses of the vaccine in the initial stage of the plan. From there, the goal is to eventually scale up to 40,000 locations across the country. 

Zients noted that equitable distribution of the vaccine is an important part of the pharmacy plan, as well. 

WMUR reported that Walgreens will be the only retail pharmacy chain in New Hampshire to receive doses of the vaccine in this initial stage. Vaccinations will start Friday for eligible groups. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Walgreens will administer around 3,400 vaccines each week, at 34 of its locations across the state. Priority will be given to people in Phase 1B whose appointments are the farthest-out, said Sununu. 

The state of New Hampshire has been implementing a six-phase plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, the state is in Phase 1B, which includes people over 65 years old, medically vulnerable at significantly higher risk, residents and staff of residential facilities for those with physical and developmental disabilities, corrections officers and staff, and first responders and healthcare workers who have not yet been vaccinated. Phase 2A is expected to begin in March. Information on how and when to register to receive the vaccine in New Hampshire is available here

It’s been just over 11 months since New Hampshire announced its first COVID-19 case. According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), as of Jan. 21, 100% of the needed amount of first vaccine doses for Phase 1A had been allocated, with <1% of the doses for Phase 1B allocated – 2,685 of the estimated 325,000. Gov. Chris Sununu recently announced a procedural change in New Hampshire – appointments for the second dose of the vaccine will automatically be scheduled when people receive their first shot. 

There are currently 3,170 active COVID-19 cases and 159 hospitalizations in New Hampshire.

Only a small number of locations in New Hampshire are administering the vaccine at this time. Seacoast-area locations include C&J Trucking in Dover and Exeter High School. The state has recently expanded their operating hour for vaccination sites statewide.  

Bloomberg noted that Feb 1. was the first day the U.S.’s total number of people vaccinated (one or both doses) surpassed the total number of COVID-19 cases the country has had since the start of the pandemic. The U.S. has been administering the vaccine the fastest of any country in the world, around 1.34 million cases per day, according to Bloomberg. 

Photo courtesy of Benjy Renton