Widespread Covid vaccines will be available in the spring, says Walgreens exec

Walgreens pharmacist Jessica Sahni is preparing a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a New York City long-term care facility on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York on December 21, 2020.

Bryan R. Smith | AFP | Getty Images

Covid vaccines are still hard to come by, but that needs to change by the spring, said Rick Gates, vice president of pharmacy and health at Walgreens.

“I would say the end of March, the beginning of April, will be the schedule for stores across the country to start vaccinations more widely in pharmacies and elsewhere,” CNBC said at Tuesday’s Healthy Return virtual event. .

Walgreens is part of a federal pharmacy program that will deliver doses directly to pharmacies this week. The pharmacy chain plans to start vaccinations on Friday in some stores in 15 states near Chicago and New York City. However, these pharmacies will have a limited supply and vaccinations will only be available to Americans who prioritize based on factors such as their age or health status.

On Tuesday, the Biden government announced that it will also begin delivering vaccines to community health centers next week as part of its strategy to reach colorful and low-income families who may not have a grocery store or drugstore nearby or may have other barriers to access, such as lack of delivery.

About 43.2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine were administered nationwide by Tuesday morning, according to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control. Only 9.8 million people received two servings of the shot. Both doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which are emergency approved by the Food and Drug Administration, require two doses.

Gates said he hopes the vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson could increase supply. The drug company applied for emergency permission from the FDA last week after publishing data showing that the vaccine was about 66% effective in protecting against the virus. It is a shot vaccine and can be stored in the refrigerator for months.

“It’s just good news for all of us that more vaccines will be available,” he said.