Where to sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations rolling out at U.S. pharmacies this week
This week marks the beginning of a new Federal government program which sends COVID-19 vaccine doses directly to pharmacies. Though there is still a limited supply of the vaccine, the new program creates a new pipeline for the vaccine—one which may be easier for some eligible recipients to access than the existing programs run primarily by state and local governments.
How many doses will be available at pharmacies?
The new pharmacy program doesn’t change the basic reality of America’s COVID-19 vaccination effort: there is vastly more demand than supply, and that’s unlikely to change soon.
The program will deliver one million COVID-19 vaccine doses to pharmacies starting on February 11. That’s a substantial portion of the overall U.S. vaccine flow, which is currently at about 10.5 million doses per week. According to the White House, vaccine going to pharmacies will not take away from existing channels such as state or county facilities, since vaccine supply has been expanding.
CVS says it will get 250,000 of those doses in the initial rollout. But those will be spread across the country, and the supplies to individual states will be relatively small – just over 20,000 doses for all the CVS stores across New York state, for instance.
But the hope is that establishing these new vaccination channels will speed distribution once vaccine supplies increase. CVS, for instance, claims that it has the capacity to delivery 20-25 million shots per month, once that many are available.
What pharmacies will have the COVID-19 vaccine?
The program will involve 21 national pharmacy chains and independent pharmacy networks. Those include major chains like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens, and pharmacies within grocery stores including Walmart, Publix, and many other grocers. Independent pharmacies will also participate through networks including Managed Health Care Associates.
Just 6,500 locations will have the vaccine at the beginning of the program. That’s projected to eventually expand to 41,000 locations.
A complete list of participating pharmacy chains and networks can be found here. Large chains, particularly Walmart, appear to make up the majority of the program’s early rollout.
When will COVID-19 vaccinations at pharmacies begin?
The White House says the program will officially start on Thursday, February 11. Some pharmacies, including CVS, expect to begin administering vaccines that day.
But other participants are hedging their bets about how fast those doses will actually be delivered. Walgreens says it will begin administering shots on Friday, February 12, while Walmart has not set a start date for vaccinations.
How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost through pharmacies?
The COVID-19 vaccine will be entirely free to all recipients when delivered at a pharmacy, just as it is through other distribution channels. A federal government fund will cover the cost for uninsured patients. There should also be no fee for for administering the vaccine, or any other additional or surprise fees.
How do I sign up to get the vaccine at a pharmacy?
First, patients should check their vaccine eligibility against the current requirements in their state, which will also be followed by pharmacies. Frontline healthcare workers and people over 75 are eligible in most states. Many states have also now expanded eligibility to patients over 65, certain crucial workers like firefighters, or those with underlying health conditions. Walgreens has a state-by-state eligibility guide here.
Getting vaccinated through a pharmacy will require an appointment. As with state-run vaccination programs, the best chance of getting an appointment will likely be by signing up through web portals set up by the pharmacies. Some pharmacies, including those in Hy-Vee groceries, specifically ask that patients not call the pharmacy directly regarding appointments.
(Research shows the dominance of web portals in the vaccine signup process is a contributing factor in the racial disparities in vaccine distribution so far, because people of color are less likely to have home internet access.)
Each pharmacy will have its own documentation requirements, but broadly, they will require a government-issued I.D., the patient’s medical benefit information, and in some cases proof of eligibility, such as a pay stub or other proof of employment in an eligible group.
COVID-19 Vaccine Pharmacy Signup Pages
Here are the portals for major participating pharmacies.
CVS COVID-19 vaccine signup page – Vaccinations begin in stores on Thursday, February 11 in several states, including Texas, New York, and California.
Costco COVID-19 vaccine signup page – Vaccinations will be available in Oregon, Puerto Rico, Washington state, and New York City.
Walmart COVID-19 vaccine signup page – Vaccinations will be available in 22 states including New Jersey, Tennessee, and New Mexico.
Kroger COVID-19 vaccine signup page – Vaccinations will be available in Louisiana, Nevada, and Utah.
Hy-Vee COVID-19 vaccine signup page – Vaccinations will be available in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, and South Dakota.
Publix Pharmacy COVID-19 vaccine signup page – Vaccinations will be available in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
Meijer COVID-19 vaccine signup page – Vaccinations will be available in several states including Ohio, Wisconsin, and Kentucky.
Tops COVID-19 vaccine signup page – Vaccinations will be available in New York and Pennsylvania.