Walmart Launches COVID-19 Vaccine Drive in 18 States to Help Vulnerable Communities

published Mar 3, 2021
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On Friday, Walmart announced it will administer the COVID-19 vaccine at 43 locations across 18 states through a series of community events taking place over the next few weeks. The Centers of Disease and Control (CDC) will be providing Walmart with the appropriate allocation of vaccines for its events in partnership with local community leaders and nonprofits. 

The vaccine distribution sites include drive-thrus in store parking lots, in-store, and off-site locations held at community centers. Many of its vaccine sites are in more vulnerable communities and were chosen after an analysis of demographics, local health needs, and gaps in critical medical services.

According to the company’s Vice President of Health and Wellness Operations, Amanda Jenkins, 90% of the country lives within 10 miles of a Walmart. In a blog post written earlier this year, Walmart highlighted its ability to distribute vaccines to underserved communities. 

The states where Walmart will host the community events are: Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.

This latest effort comes just weeks after Walmart announced plans to administer the COVID-19 vaccine through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, an initiative launched by the Biden administration earlier this month to directly supply pharmacies with the vaccine. The program also builds upon the retailer’s vaccination program at 1,400 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in 35 states. 

How Other Grocery Stores Are Handling the Vaccine Rollout

Many other retailers have also begun offering the coronavirus immunization through the government’s vaccine-distribution program. Last week, Costco announced it will provide vaccines in five states and Puerto Rico. However, supply is limited, and is available to members-only that are eligible through state guidelines. 

Publix is also offering vaccines by appointment at all 730 of its in-store pharmacies in Florida, as well as Hy-Vee, Southeastern Grocers, Meijer, H-E-B, Ahold Delhaize, and Kroger. 

To manage vaccine requests, track supplies, and streamline the process, Kroger Health launched a new COVID-19 scheduling system that will allow customers to book appointments and check eligibility. About 1,300 of Kroger’s 2,200 pharmacies in the U.S. have received doses, and so far they’ve administered 380,000 shots to those who qualify. 

Food retailers with major pharmacies are stepping up to the plate to offer the COVID-19 vaccine as part of a federal plan to make vaccines more available to community members. The U.S. is currently administering about 1.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses each day and are looking to increase that number. 

As part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, the White House delivered more than one million doses to 6,500 partner retail pharmacy locations nationwide. 

However, vaccine supply still remains an issue for grocers that are involved in the program and grocery companies have been warning customers that although they are administering the vaccine, getting an appointment may be difficult until supplies increase. 

“Through our preparation efforts, we have the ability to start vaccinating eligible populations less than 24 hours after receiving allocations,” Randy Edeker, CEO of Hy-Vee, said in a statement. “The issue to date has been demand far exceeding supply, and we believe this partnership helps strengthen our advocacy efforts to receive more of the vaccine.”