The Kroger Co. is hiring at least 1,000 new employees to facilitate the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations nationwide across its 2,200 pharmacies and 220 clinics.
"Kroger Health is a COVID-19 response leader that has provided our patients, associates and other businesses with diagnostic testing tools and supporting resources since the onset of this public health crisis," said Colleen Lindholz, Kroger Health's president. "Kroger Health's experienced health care providers remain committed to helping our patients and associates live healthier lives. The size and scale of our health care operation provides us with the unique ability to efficiently facilitate COVID-19 testing and immunize a large portion of the U.S. population, once the authorized vaccines become more widely available."
Kroger Health is hiring nearly 1,000 health care personnel, including pharmacy technicians, to support operations and the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. Kroger Health is also committed to training current associates.
Over the last few months, Kroger Health has worked closely with the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense as well as the pharmaceutical companies and other businesses to prepare for vaccine authorization. Now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, Kroger Health will support the phased approach, focusing first on priority populations as defined by federal and state governments. Illustratively, Kroger Health will begin to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Anchorage and Juneau this week to health care workers in partnership with the state of Alaska. Kroger Health is also engaged in vaccination efforts for prioritized populations in several other geographies.
Kroger continues to advocate on behalf of associates for essential workers to have priority access to the vaccine in line with the organization's efforts earlier this year to help associates access personal protection equipment like masks and gloves.
"As one of the most-accessible health care partners in the U.S., Kroger Health is prepared and ready to play an active role in helping distribute the vaccine in collaboration with public health officials and community partners," said Dr. Marc Watkins, Kroger Health's chief medical officer. "Our most urgent priority throughout this pandemic has been to protect and provide a safe environment for our associates and patients while meeting our societal obligation to provide open stores, e-commerce solutions and an efficiently operating supply chain so that our communities have access to fresh, affordable food, essentials and health care. We are strongly encouraging all customers and associates to receive the vaccine to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, and we'll do all we can to ensure they have access as soon as it's available."
Kroger Health has facilitated more than 250,000 COVID-19 tests since April and in October launched rapid antibody tests to help inform patients if they may have been previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, expanding the organization's existing portfolio of in-clinic and at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests. Kroger Health also continues to administer the seasonal flu vaccine.
Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.