The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that it will begin providing COVID-19 vaccines to US pharmacies, part of its plan to ramp up vaccinations as new and potentially more serious virus strains are starting to appear.
Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said starting from next week some 6,500 pharmacies around the country will receive one million doses of vaccine. The number of participating pharmacies, and the allocation of vaccines, are expected to accelerate as drugmakers increase production.
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“This is a key component of president Biden’s national strategy: offering vaccination in America’s pharmacies,” Zients said during a White House virtual briefing.
Drug stores have become a mainstay for flu shots and shingles vaccines, and the industry is capable of vaccinating tens of millions of people monthly. “This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities,” said Zients.
The partnership with pharmacies was originally announced by the Trump administration last November. At that time, no coronavirus vaccines had been approved.
Zients also announced an increase in doses the government is shipping to states, territories and some major metropolitan areas. Those will now total 10.5 million doses across all jurisdictions, up from 10 million announced last week.
The one million doses being shipped to pharmacies will be on top of the allocations to states. Zients said a priority will be to get the vaccine to minority communities that have suffered a disproportionately high toll of disease and deaths from the virus.