COVID-19 vaccines could be available to general public at pharmacies by the spring

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WASHINGTON — Representatives from both Walgreens and CVS Health predicted the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to the general public during the spring, and patients will  be able to make appointments to get the shots at their neighborhood pharmacies.

Dr. Kevin Ban

“My view on this is that I think that the best and easiest place for people to get these vaccinations is going to be the retail pharmacies. Operation Warp Speed already contracted with 16 different pharmacy chains. Our point of view is that once we gear up in the pharmacy, we can give 20 to 25 million doses per month,” Dr. Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer of CVS, said during a panel discussion Thursday with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on the vaccine rollout.

U.S. Chamber president Suzanne Clark interviewed Dr. Brennan and Dr. Kevin Ban, chief medical officer at Walgreens as part of “A Path Forward,” a series produced by the organization designed to help business and community leaders find the answers they need to execute a responsible reopening strategy and plan for a post-pandemic world.

Dr. Ban said the company estimates it might be able to administer COVID-19 vaccines to the public by early March. Walgreens said it plans to hire about 25,000 people across the U.S., including up to 9,000 pharmacists and other health care workers, to administer the vaccine.

Once the vaccines are available for mass distribution, Dr. Ban said the process might look similar to getting a flu shot, where patients schedule an appointment and have a pharmacist administer the shot inside one of its stores.

Walgreens also is looking at setting up off-site and mobile clinics to reach rural areas and communities that might have a hard time accessing a pharmacy, Dr.Ban added.


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