Grocers Ramp Up Vax Efforts as COVID-19 Situation Shifts Yet Again

Surges, mandates and 3rd-dose approval put fresh impetus on retail pharmacies
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Grocers Ramp Up Vax Efforts as COVID-19 Situation Shifts Yet Again
H-E-B is one retailer that is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine availability to eligible individuals.

As COVID-19 infections mount amid a surge of the Delta variant, grocers are gearing up again to serve as community resources. In addition to accommodating for another round of pantry loading and mask and sanitizer supplies, retailers are redoubling vaccination efforts.

In Delta-hit Florida, for example, Publix Pharmacy announced this week that it is adding the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to its locations in four counties. Publix already offers Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to eligible people over the age of 18, and accepts both online appointments and walk-in vaccinations.

Other grocers in Florida are revving up their vaccine administration. In the Sarasota area, La Primavera Supermarket is hosting a free walk-up clinic on Aug. 21 for eligible individuals ages 12 and older.

In Texas, another state facing a sizable uptick in illnesses, H-E-B is responding to vaccine demand by adding walk-in visits during the week from Monday through Friday between noon and 5 p.m. The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered from H-E-B pharmacy locations in recent weeks has more than doubled, with 70,000 shots given this week alone, the company reports.

Meanwhile, retailers around the country are working to enhance vaccine access. Earlier this month, The Kroger Co. teamed up with rideshare company Lyft to help customers access discounted transportation for COVID vaccines at its locations. The service is provided through a partnership between Kroger Health and Lyft Healthcare, Inc.

Heading into the fall season, vaccine mandates among certain employers and this week's approval of a booster jab for immunocompromised individuals by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are likely to be additional catalysts for grocers to serve as vaccination hubs.

Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix has over 1,200 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. The company is No. 12 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. With approximately 400 stores in Texas and Mexico, H-E-B is No. 13 on The PG 100. Cincinnati-based Kroger, with its almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, is No. 3.

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