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Retail giant Walmart plans to administer coronavirus vaccines following approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the company announced this week.
It plans to enter into agreements with the federal government to distribute the vaccine upon its approval, Walmart Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tom Van Gilder said in a news release.
Walmart is preparing some 5,000 of its Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies to receive the doses when available; “including making sure we have freezers in all our pharmacies, as well as dry ice to handle any requirements for storing the vaccine,” Van Gilder said in the statement.
The retailer is also “entering into agreements with states to be able to support vaccinations where needed, whether that is in our pharmacies or long-term care facilities where the states determine they need our help.”
Health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities have been recommended by an independent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel to receive the vaccine first, with many states expected to follow these recommendations.
“The federal government will allocate the vaccine to states, and states will determine who should receive the first doses of the vaccine and when. Walmart will not have any say in who can receive the vaccine, but we are ready to support states once they do,” the company said.
The U.S. government has agreed to buy some 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, the first to seek emergency approval from the FDA. An FDA advisory panel voted Thursday to endorse the jab, clearing the way for FDA leaders to authorize emergency mass distribution amid an ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases across the country.
That FDA approval came Friday night.
Other pharmacies across the country, including CVS Health Corp and Walgreens Boot Alliance, have entered into similar agreements with the U.S. government to distribute the vaccine.