Retail pharmacies are stepping in to help speed up Covid-19 vaccinations much earlier than anticipated after calls for states to take more advantage of their networks and experience.
Independent and chain drug stores weren't supposed to take a large role in distributing the vaccines until later stages, when doses will be much more widely available. But the halting rollout so far has sent governors scrambling for alternatives to hospital systems and local health departments, which have been handling most vaccinations so far.
New York this week is expanding distribution to hundreds of pharmacies throughout the state so health care workers or people ages 75 and older have more options to get vaccinated.
"They know how to do this," Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said at a briefing Friday. He said 1,200 pharmacies had committed to help speed distribution, in addition to other health care providers.
Louisiana made a similar announcement Monday, and some of the biggest chains in the country are widening their distribution to help with states' Phase 1 plans.
Rite Aid said Monday that it had agreements to immunize Phase 1 groups in Delaware, New Jersey, New York City and Philadelphia. In Florida, pharmacies inside some Publix Super Markets began administering vaccinations Friday.
The states generally aren't widening who's eligible to be vaccinated — just adding to their lists of distribution points.
Experts said it's an important step in ramping up distribution, one that makes sense given the millions of flu shots pharmacists administer every year. Continue Reading