Rick Gates, Senior Vice President of Pharmacy and Healthcare Walgreensassured CNBC that the company would deliver Covid vaccines safely and efficiently.
“We will make sure our health professionals are there to give them the vaccine and adequately monitor them,” Gates said Tuesday evening “The news with Shepard Smith.” “No, it won’t be in parking lots, you will see it in our stores, but we will make sure we have safe and appropriate places for the vaccinations.”
president Joe Bidenadministration announced Tuesday that access to Covid vaccines will be expanded and distributed directly to retail pharmacies starting next week. It’s all part of the government’s efforts to make it faster and easier for Americans to get vaccinated.
Gates told host Shepard Smith that Walgreens currently supports about 15 states and jurisdictions, which means the company will receive “about 170,000 cans” for the first part of the launch.
White House Covid Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said the process will start slowly as 6,500 pharmacies receive 1 million doses. CVS and Walgreens alone will receive shipments in 20 states. Sales will eventually expand.
“Since we can increase the offer, up to 40,000 pharmacies nationwide could offer Covid-19 vaccinations,” said Zients on Tuesday.
According to a survey by DynataAlmost half of those surveyed, the leading first-party insights platform, would start taking the vaccine as soon as it becomes available.
The push comes in the face of a new urgency to vaccinate as many Americans as possible to prevent the spread of potentially more serious strains of the virus. More than 95,000 Americans died of Covid in January alone. according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data. April 2020 was the second highest month and 60,716 Americans died from the virus.
Gates said the past few months have been a learning experience to enable the company to look into administering the Covid vaccine following criticism from New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D). Murphy blamed Walgreens for the Garden State’s sluggish introduction of the vaccine during an interview on January 20 at “The news with Shepard Smith.”
“The main reason is the federal program with CVS and Walgreens,” Murphy said. “They basically amassed these cans, they are planning visits to long-term care homes, they extend their lives and they hit under their weight, especially Walgreens, and there are most of the cans that are left to be used.”
Gates said he knew it wouldn’t go perfectly in the beginning, but the rollout for long-term care facilities has accelerated.
“What we saw was a run-up of it that has been going on pretty religiously ever since,” said Gates. “We vaccinated about a million long-term care residents in the first month and about a million in the last week alone, so you’ve seen a significant increase in our activity.”