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Retailers ready to provide updated COVID-19 shots

Retailers, including Walgreens, CVS and Kroger, have announced plans to offer the updated COVID-19 vaccine and other shots.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
Levy

With the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorization for the new vaccines targeting newer coronavirus variants, retailers, including Walgreens, CVS and Kroger Health are set to provide critical access to COVID-19 vaccines for all eligible individuals.

Individuals will be able to schedule appointments immediately, with available appointments starting nationwide on Monday, Sept. 18. Earlier appointments may be added on a rolling basis as stores receive vaccines this week, Walgreens said.

The CDC is contracting with select pharmacies, including Walgreens, to offer free COVID-19 vaccinations to uninsured and underinsured adults through the Bridge Access Program. Walgreens remains focused on driving equitable and convenient access to life-saving vaccines.

Walgreens noted that the CDC’s decision to recommend the updated vaccine comes as the Walgreens COVID-19 Index shows a national positivity rate of 40.6% as of Sept. 11. Additionally, 15 states and territories are seeing positivity rates above that national average, with Puerto Rico (54.3%), Oregon (53.1%) and Maryland (52.9%) topping the list. 

Additionally:

[Read more: Retailers offer incentives for customers to get flu shots]

  • Twenty-three states and territories saw increases in positivity rates compared to the prior week, including Nebraska (126.6% increase), Kansas (66.6% increase) and Louisiana (53.7% increase). 
  • The national positivity rate is down slightly from the highest historical peak of 44.9% that we saw the week of August 21, 2023, but still above the 39.9% peak we saw last respiratory illness season.  
  • Meanwhile, demand for COVID-19 testing remains high, with 4,733 PCR tests administered at Walgreens last week. Walgreens has seen an increase of more than 110% in PCR testing from July 11 to Sept. 11. 

“Now is the time for most people to get their COVID-19 and flu vaccines, and at-risk seniors ages 60 years and older should also be considering the RSV vaccine. We know immunizations can often fall off the to-do list, but it is important that everyone take the time to get their recommended vaccines to be protected this fall and winter. Walgreens is making it easy to make your appointment and get it done. We provide the ability to schedule multiple vaccines for multiple people in your family during the same visit, as well as test-to-treat options at a low out-of-pocket cost,” said Kevin Ban, Walgreens chief medical officer. ​​ 

[Read more: Walgreens’ Kevin Ban shares research findings, testing plans ahead of respiratory virus season]

Appointments can be scheduled by visiting Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine, using the Walgreens app or calling 1-800-WALGREENS. Additional appointments will be added daily as inventory arrives at stores.  

CVS Health announced on Tuesday that the updated COVID-19 vaccine is now available at its CVS Pharmacy locations. Pharmacies began receiving the new vaccine on Tuesday and will continue to receive inventory on a rolling basis throughout the week. All CVS Pharmacy locations are expected to have the vaccination in stock by early next week.

Appointments for individuals aged five and above are made available at CVS.com and via the CVS Pharmacy app, and walk-ins will be accepted as individual locations receive the vaccines. MinuteClinic locations also will begin offering the new COVID-19 vaccine for patients aged 18 months and above in the coming weeks, with appointments available at MinuteClinic.com.

“COVID-19 continues to impact communities across the country, so it’s important that we use the tools we have to stay healthy,” said Sree Chaguturu, executive vice president and chief medical officer at CVS Health. “Vaccination is the most effective way to do this. It’s vital that we keep up with vaccines to help control the continued spread of COVID-19. Through a simple vaccination, we can all help protect ourselves, our families and our communities.”

Digital scheduling through CVS.com and the CVS Pharmacy app allows patients to schedule multiple appointments at once, enabling families, caregivers and other groups to get vaccinated together. In addition, multiple vaccinations can be scheduled in one appointment, such as COVID-19 and flu, as recommended by the CDC, the company said. The vaccine is available at no-cost through most insurance plans. In addition, CVS Pharmacy will be participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program.

CVS Pharmacy also accepts walk-ins, seven days a week, including during evening and weekend hours. Patients who receive any CDC-recommended vaccine at CVS Pharmacy also will receive a $5 off $20 to use on in-store purchases.

MinuteClinic sick symptom visits (during which patients can get tested for COVID-19, flu, strep throat, etc.) are available by appointment at MinuteClinic.com.

Kroger Health, the healthcare division of Kroger also is making it easier for customers to get their flu, RSV and updated COVID-19 vaccines.

"Customers can get their flu, RSV and updated COVID-19 vaccines from the Kroger Family of Companies' pharmacies and clinics during their regular shopping trip. We recommend patients consider getting vaccinated now to provide protection against these respiratory viruses during the upcoming holidays and winter months, which is when illnesses tend to increase," said Doug Cornelius, senior director pf pharmacy operations at Kroger Health.

High-dose flu vaccines, which provide extra protection for senior citizens, regular-dose flu vaccines as well as the most current RSV and updated COVID-19 vaccines are available at Kroger Family of Companies' pharmacies and Little Clinic locations,  the company said. While customers can choose to walk-in to receive their vaccines, they also are welcome to make an appointment. These vaccines are available at no charge for most patients with insurance from Kroger's pharmacies or Little Clinic locations.

 

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