Full FDA approval of Pfizer jab, plus CDC approval of third doses, are prompting grocers to add more vaccine services.
With vaccine administration back on the hot front burner following Monday’s full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and after a third dose for eligible immunocompromised individuals was okayed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Aug. 12, retailers continue to rescale their vaccination efforts.
Albertsons Cos., for example, announced that it is offering free third doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to customers who qualify based on their medical status. The retailer also reported that it is also gearing up to meet demand in September, when the U.S. government is expected to extend the eligibility of third doses to other Americans. To date, Albertsons has given more than 6 million vaccines at its 1,730 pharmacy locations, according to company information.
Several other grocers are intensifying their programs to provide the vaccine to those seeking a third dose and those who may have been on the fence about the first dose prior to the official FDA approval of Pfizer’s shot. Chains including Hy-Vee, Meijer, Giant Eagle and Publix among others, have announced their respective COVID-19 vaccine expansions in the past week.
Meanwhile, the official FDA approval of the Pfizer jab also opens the door for businesses, including retailers, to mandate vaccinations for employees, with more legal cover. “We already know that there are many businesses and universities that have moved toward vaccine requirements and I think that's a very reasonable thing to do to create a safe environment," said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in a television interview over the weekend.
Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons operates 2,277 retail stores with 1,725 pharmacies, 400 associated fuel centers, 22 dedicated distribution centers and 20 manufacturing facilities. The company’s stores predominantly operate under the Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw’s, Star Market, United Supermarkets, Kings Food Markets and Haggen banners. Albertsons is No. 8 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.