Americans will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine — once one is available — at a nearby Costco.
The US Department of Health and Human Services announced a partnership with independent and large pharmacy chains to increase access to an impending coronavirus vaccine. HHS said the partnership covers 60% of all pharmacies within the US, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
The list of chain pharmacies includes CVS, Costco, Walmart, Rite Aid, Publix, Walgreens and Kroger. Pharmacists, pharmacy interns, and pharmacy technicians will provide vaccines within these grocery stores.
"The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, and our new agreement with pharmacy partners across America is a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available," HHS Secretary Alex Azar stated in a release.
There is not currently a vaccine for the new coronavirus. The World Health Organization estimates there are 241 ongoing projects to develop a vaccine. US drugmaker Pfizer said on November 9 its drug was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, based on an initial study that has not been peer-reviewed.
The US said the first 100 million doses of a vaccine from Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech SE will be free of charge. Seniors and other people covered by Medicare will not pay for the drug, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Medicare said.
The country must develop a plan to distribute vaccines. Non-profit ProPublica reported most states are not ready to distribute the vaccine to all residents. Pfizer's drug requires two shots given three weeks apart, requiring double the storage and distribution resources. Senior Trump administration officials say President Trump's refusal to help President-elect Joe Biden's transition will slow down a vaccine rollout, The Daily Beast reported.