Major pharmacy chain Walgreens could be administering its first rounds of the upcoming Covid vaccine by Christmas. Pharmacists will first be giving the drug to nursing home residents and Walgreens staff members. The FDA has now approved the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use with distribution beginning Monday. The Coronavirus vaccine manufactured from Modera is still awaiting its FDA emergency use approval.
The national drugstore chain will play an instrumental role in the early rollout of the much-anticipated vaccination. Walgreens and CVS Health struck deals with the federal government to vaccinate staff and residents at long-term care facilities, which most states have put at the top of the priority list along with health-care workers for receiving Pfizer and Moderna’s much-awaited Covid-19 vaccines. Pfizer’s vaccine is expected to win emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration imminently while Moderna’s approval is expected to soon follow.
The start of vaccinations at nursing homes will represent a significant milestone in the coronavirus pandemic because long-term care facilities have been particularly hard hit with Covid-19 outbreaks and deaths. They are typically home to older Americans who have underlying health conditions, making them more vulnerable to develop severe cases of the disease and potentially to die from it.
Rick Gates, senior vice president of pharmacy and healthcare at Walgreens, shared the timing and more details about the rollout in an interview with CNBC. He said he hopes the vaccinations at long-term care facilities gives Americans more comfort and confidence in the vaccine. For example, he said, Walgreens’ staff can learn more about the typical side effects, such as soreness near the injection site, so they can better counsel patients and reduce anxiety or alarm.
Walgreens has more than 27,000 pharmacists trained to administer vaccines. The company said it’s hiring between 8,000 and 9,000 pharmacy team members to support the Covid-19 vaccine and other related efforts, such as testing.
Keep reading at CNBC.