WEDNESDAY, Feb. 3, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- The Biden administration said Tuesday that it will begin to deliver much-needed COVID-19 vaccines directly to retail pharmacies across the country.
The partnership includes 21 national pharmacies and will eventually include 40,000 locations across the country. The first shipment of 1 million vaccine doses will go out Feb. 11, The Washington Post reported.
"This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities, and it's an important component to delivering vaccines equitably," Jeffrey Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said during a media briefing Tuesday. "This pharmacy program will expand access in neighborhoods across the country so you can make an appointment and get your shot conveniently and quickly."
The direct shipment will begin with a group of 6,500 stores. The initial locations will be in communities where residents have disproportionately borne the burden of severe COVID-19, The Post reported. The decision to send vaccine doses straight to pharmacies is based on the premise that they may be more familiar and easier to navigate than websites run by public health departments, the newspaper said.
Zients tried to temper expectations for how much this first effort would help Americans frustrated by the difficulty of getting vaccine appointments. "Many pharmacies across the country will not have vaccines or will have very limited supply," he said, without predicting a time frame for widening the use of retail locations.
He also announced that starting this week, states are receiving 5 percent more vaccine doses in addition to an already-announced increase of 16 percent, bringing the total to 10.5 million doses a week, The Post reported.