Biden administration will begin shipping COVID-19 vaccines to select pharmacies next week

To help expedite vaccinations across the country, the Biden administration will begin shipping COVID-19 vaccines to select pharmacies starting February 11.

Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said Tuesday that it’s essential Americans have easily accessible locations to receive the vaccines, and this public-private partnership with 21 national pharmacy partners and networks will provide that.

“I want to set expectations appropriately. Due to the current supply constraints this will be limited when it begins next week. In the early phase, many pharmacies will not have vaccine or may have very limited supply,” said Zients.

The first phase of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program will involve 6,500 stores nationwide receiving one million doses of the vaccines.

Sites will be initially selected on their ability to reach populations most at risk for severe illness from the coronavirus.

Eventually as many as 40,000 pharmacies nationwide could be enlisted to help vaccinate Americans.

State Health and Human Service Secretary Mandy Cohen cautioned Tuesday that people may still find themselves waiting for their turn to get their shot.

“There is such limited supply right now we’re still seeing very high demand for those 65 and up, and so it’s still going to be a number of weeks before we are able to move forward to our frontline essential workers,” Cohen said.

A limited number of Walgreens in North Carolina will receive a direct allocation of the vaccine from the federal government next week as part of the new pharmacy program, according to Sec. Cohen.

“They will be getting a very small amount of vaccine at a few of their locations, and we’re still working through where that will be,” explained Cohen.

Walgreens will follow the state’s prioritization for distributing the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

The next in line for vaccination are frontline essential workers, and that includes teachers.

Also on Tuesday, Governor Roy Cooper, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt and State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis called on school districts across the state to allow in-person instruction for all students.

“The science is clear. It is safe to re-open our schools in accordance with the heath protocol,” said Davis.

The North Carolina Association of Educators wants the state to vaccinate teachers before asking them to return to classrooms for in-person instruction.

North Carolina has administered  820,354 first doses of the vaccine with 171,914 individuals receiving both doses.

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