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Dr. Fauci explains why CVS and Walgreens are the best places to get a COVID vaccine

December 21st, 2020 at 3:12 PM
Coronavirus vaccine
  • The first injections of a second coronavirus vaccine, this time from Moderna, are happening around the company starting on Monday.
  • In a Q&A with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that CVS and Walgreens are going to eventually be the fastest route to the vaccine for most people.
  • Both drugstore chains announced COVID vaccination programs in recent days.

Now that the FDA has approved an emergency use authorization for a second coronavirus vaccine, this time from Moderna, FedEx announced over the weekend that it’s set to begin shipping out the first wave of this new vaccine around the country.

Calling this “the most important work in the history of FedEx,” the company said its FedEx Express division will begin transporting the vaccine and supply kits, after months of prep and planning with pharmaceutical giant McKesson, state and local officials around the US, as well as officials with the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program. The first jabs of this new coronavirus vaccine into peoples’ arms should begin on Monday, though officials caution that most people won’t receive it until 2021 is underway. This begs the question, what about the timetable for most people? How will generally healthy people receive this vaccine the fastest?

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White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has an answer for that.

During a Q&A with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Dr. Fauci at one point talked about people who fall outside of the groups in the first categories of vaccine recipients eventually being able to walk into a local Walgreens or CVS to get their injections. Because of how widespread those drugstore chains’ footprints are, it’s expected that will eventually be the fastest way to get the vaccine for most people.

“In December,” Dr. Fauci said, “the first of the high priorities (will be) a combination of healthcare providers, frontline people who take care of patients, as well as those who are at higher risk like people in nursing homes, and those types of situations,” he said. “And as we get into January, the next tier. And February, then March.

“By the time we get to April, we would likely have taken care of all the high priority and then the general population — the normal, healthy young man or woman, 30 years old that has no underlying conditions — can walk into a CVS or to a Walgreens and get vaccinated.” As we get to April and May, Dr. Fauci continued, the assumption is that most people who want to receive a coronavirus vaccine will have been able to do so by that point.

On Monday, along those lines, CVS Health announced that it has formally launched its coronavirus vaccine program for residents of long-term care facilities. “CVS pharmacy teams,” the company explained, “will administer the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in facilities across 12 states this week, and the company expects to vaccinate up to four million residents and staff at over 40,000 long-term care facilities through the program.”

Likewise, Walgreens announced a few days before that it, too, has begun administering the coronavirus vaccine to residents and staff of long-term care facilities “in a monumental first in the company’s 119-year history.”

“Pharmacists are providing the vaccinations at nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Ohio and Connecticut as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program,” Walgreens’ announcement notes, adding that this work will eventually expand vaccinations to almost 3 million residents and staff at 35,000 long-term care facilities.

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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