As the country looks to meet President Biden’s goal of getting one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in 70% of Americans by July 4, pharmacy chains are expanding their vaccination hours to make the vaccines more accessible. Rite Aid and Walgreens on Thursday unveiled expanded hours on the remaining Fridays in June to make getting vaccinated easier.
At Rite Aid, the chain is launching “Night Shots,” extending vaccinating hours until midnight at more than 200 locations every Friday in June, beginning June 11. Additionally, on those Friday dates, 27 Rite Aid locations will be administering COVID-19 vaccines for the entire 24-hour day. For both events, vaccinations will be offered on a walk-in basis.
The retailer said the efforts are meant to help ensure that everyone — including people with less flexible work hours — have an opportunity to be vaccinated. The full list of locations participating in the “Night Shots” and 24-hour clinics can be found here.
Walgreens also is expanding the hours of operation at 4,000 of its locations on June 11, 18 and 25 to accommodate more walk-in vaccinations. The company also noted that its more than 400 24-hour pharmacy locations are offering vaccinations on a walk-in basis throughout their hours of operations.
The moves from these chains come as the Biden administration’s July 4 goal begins to come up against a downward trend in demand — and big disparities in vaccination rates from state to state. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that vaccination rates nationwide have slowed from almost 2 million people per day two months ago to 400,000 now, with some 15.5 million people needing to receive a vaccine dose in the next month to meet the 70% target.
As the president continues to push for the July 4 goal, he unveiled his plan for June, which has been dubbed the “National Month of Action,” emphasizing efforts like Rite Aid’s and Walgreens’ that increase the ease of getting a vaccination.
In a press briefing Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci noted that vaccination is particularly important in preventing the spread of variants, including the “Delta” variant, which was dominant in areas of India, but has spread nationwide and is emerging as the dominant variant in the United Kingdom. One dose of a vaccine is not particularly strong against this variant, he said.
Fauci also noted that while meeting the vaccination goal by the July 4 deadline would be a serious achievement, progress can still be made against the pandemic as the year goes on.
“We have always held that July 4th is not the end of it,” he said. “We want to reach 70% of the adult population by the Fourth of July, I believe we can; I hope we will. And if we don’t, we’re going to continue to keep pushing. As you know, this is the month of action for what we’re doing, and we’re putting a lot of effort into it.”