Walgreens announced that it has teamed up with 35,000 nursing and assisted living facilities nationwide to deliver COVID-19 vaccines, marking a "historic milestone and important step toward ending the pandemic."
The announcement came just days before the nation's first COVID-19 vaccine, co-developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, was shipped out to regional hubs around the country. On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the final go-ahead to the shots needed to end an outbreak that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans.
The high-priority populations, which are determined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and federal and state governments, include long-term care facility residents and staff, as well as health care workers.
“Our purpose – to champion the health and wellbeing of every community in America – has never been more clear or critical,” Walgreens President John Standley said in a statement Friday.
Alongside Walgreens, CVS has also partnered with facilities nationwide to deliver Pfizer's vaccine.
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As of Nov. 18, over 25,000 long-term care sites have partnered with CVS to provide vaccinations at their facilities, according to the CVS website. The retailer said the number of clinics will be determined by the number of long-term care facilities that select CVS Health as their vaccine partner through the CDC survey process.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense partnered with Walgreens and CVS to provide and administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents and staff of long-term care facilities across the nation.
Both companies also reached an agreement with federal health officials to distribute free vaccines to the general public once they become available. The goal is to make getting a COVID-19 vaccine similar to getting a flu shot.
Walgreens plans to expand access to the general population at over 9,000 stores "once COVID-19 vaccines become available more broadly in 2021," the company said.
Likewise, CVS pharmacies are slated to receive vaccine supplies in order to "provide access across the country to COVID-19 vaccines, once available," according to CVS' website.
Walgreens will continue to work closely with federal health officials as well as federal and state governments "to ensure the administration of COVID-19 vaccines across the nation as soon as possible," Standley said.
Retail chains like Rite Aid, supermarket drug stores like Albertsons and Publix, and big-box stores like Costco and Walmart have also agreed to distribute vaccines once they become available for the general public beyond priority groups.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has said these partnerships are "a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.