The Kroger Co., Albertsons Cos. and dozens of other U.S. grocery retailers are teaming up with the Department of Health and Human Services to administer free COVID-19 vaccines.
Through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Strategy for COVID-19 Vaccination, grocers such as Kroger, Albertsons, Publix Super Markets, Walmart and Wegmans Food Markets will receive a direct allocation of COVID-19 vaccine once it's authorized or approved and recommended for use in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made the announcement earlier today, in which it outlined its partnership with grocers and other food retailers to maximize access to COVID-19 vaccines for all Americans. The program covers approximately 60% of pharmacies throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Ensuring access and affordability of the COVID-19 vaccine for all Americans is a top priority for the Trump Administration,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “We are leveraging the existing private-sector infrastructure to get safe and effective vaccines supported by Operation Warp Speed into communities and into arms as quickly as possible, with no out-of-pocket costs. The vast majority of Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy, and our new agreement with pharmacy partners across America is a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available.”
Food retailers that have signed on to the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Strategy for COVID-19 Vaccination as of Nov. 6 include:
- Albertsons Cos. Inc. (including Osco, Jewel-Osco, Albertsons, Albertsons Market, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Star Market, Shaws, Haggen, Acme, Randalls, Carrs, Market Street, United, Vons, Pavilions, Amigos, Lucky’s, Pak 'n Save, and Sav-On)
- Costco Wholesale Corp.
- CVS Pharmacy Inc. (inclunding Long’s)
- Good Neighbor Pharmacy and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp.’s PSAO, Elevate Provider
- Hy-Vee Inc.
- Meijer Inc.
- Publix Super Markets Inc.
- Retail Business Services LLC (including Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Co., Hannaford Bros Co., and Stop & Shop)
- Rite Aid Corp.
- The Kroger Co. (including Kroger, Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, Fry's, Ralphs, King Soopers, Smiths, City Market, Dillons, Marianos, Pick-n-Save, Copps and Metro Market)
- Topco Associates, LLC (incl. Big-Y Pharmacy and Wellness Center, Brookshire’s Pharmacy, Super One Pharmacy, FRESH by Brookshire’s Pharmacy, Coborn’s Pharmacy, Cash Wise Pharmacy, MarketPlace Pharmacy, Hartig Drug Company, King Kullen, Food City Pharmacy, Ingles Pharmacy, Raley’s, Bel Air, Nob Hill Pharmacies, Save Mart Pharmacies, Lucky Pharmacies, SpartanNash, Price Chopper, Market 32, Tops Friendly Markets, ShopRite, Wegmans, Weis Markets, Acme Fresh Markets)
- Walgreens (inclunding Duane Reade)
- Walmart Inc. (including Sam’s Club)
- Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. (including Winn-Dixie, Harveys and Fresco Y Mas)
Albertsons issued a statement saying that its pharmacies will work with the CDC and the states in which the company operates to streamline and optimize the delivery of the vaccine by working closely to coordinate, track and monitor distribution.
“Throughout this pandemic, our pharmacy teams have been on the front lines, offering care and health solutions for our communities,” said Omer Gaijal, SVP of Albertsons Cos. Pharmacy and Health. “When a vaccine is ready, our pharmacists will play a critical role in administering this important public-health service.”
Currently, there are no COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized or approved by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to the CDC. However, this pharmacy partnership is being established in anticipation that one or more COVID-19 vaccines will be authorized or approved and recommended for use in the United States before the end of 2020. Pfizer recently said that its vaccine candidate has shown itself to be 90% effective at preventing the virus in trials thus far.
News of the retail vaccine partnership comes as the U.S. COVID-19 death toll spiked to 1,893 on Wednesday, Nov. 11, which is the highest number of fatalities since May 8 during the initial peak of the outbreak. New infections across the country hit a record high of 144,133 cases and hospitalizations surged to a single-day high of more 65,000 patients, according to Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University.