ORLANDO, Fla. — Soon, Publix will no longer be the only retail store in Florida offering COVID-19 vaccines.
Jared Moskowitz, director of the state’s Division of Emergency Management, said two more chains have been given authorization to distribute the vaccine starting as early as next week.
On Tuesday, the White House launched what it’s calling the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
“This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing Tuesday. “It’s an important component to delivering vaccines equitably.
Psaki notes more than 90% of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy.
While the initial launch will be limited, Psaki says the goal is to ultimately supply up to 40,000 pharmacies nationwide.
In Florida, Moskowitz says the state was allowed to choose which pharmacies they’d use.
“So we chose Publix, Walmart, and Winn Dixie, because we want to make sure, obviously, that we’re serving as many communities as we can.” Moskowitz says. “Some of these stores are in certain neighborhoods, some of these stores are not.”
Noticeably missing from the list were CVS and Walgreens, which have been assisting with vaccinations at Florida’s long-term care facilities.
When asked, Moskowitz says that omission has nothing to do with the job those pharmacies have done distributing the vaccine.
“At some point in time, when we get more doses, we’ll turn on more pharmacies, but right now, CVS and Walgreens have their hands full with the long-term care facilities.”
As for a timeline, Moskowitz says the state has already been in contact with the three stores and they expect to launch the program around February 10, depending on when the vaccines are delivered.
“As far as what stores...we’re still working with them,” Moskowitz says. “We want to make sure that, strategically, we’re putting these stores in rural areas and urban areas, and making sure that we’re distributing them equitably.”
Justin Beck, the CEO of a health tech company, said cutting out the middle man like in this case should help streamline the vaccination process.
“This is the right approach, so we need to distribute directly to pharmacy locations as opposed to healthcare providers that are over tasked,” Beck said.
Cox Media Group