Biden administration pushing millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines to pharmacies, few in Kansas City area

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Closeup of pharmacist’s hands taking medicines from shelf at the pharmacy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Biden administration is taking a new approach in the hopes of getting COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of Americans.

It will begin providing those vaccines to U.S. pharmacies, part of its plan to ramp up vaccinations as new and potentially more serious virus strains are starting to appear, the White House said Tuesday.

Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said starting next week, some 6,500 pharmacies around the country will receive a total of 1 million doses of vaccine. The number of participating pharmacies, and the allocation of vaccines, are expected to accelerate as drugmakers increase production.

Drug stores have become a mainstay for flu shots and shingles vaccines, and the industry is capable of vaccinating tens of millions of people monthly.

“This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities,” said Zients.

Except that’s not exactly what will happen in the coming weeks in either Kansas or Missouri.

Walmart and Sam’s Clubs are the only large pharmacy chains in the metro planning to vaccinate the general public as early as next week.

The company says once a store or club receives allocation, its online scheduler will be available to make appointments at walmart.com/COVIDvaccine and samsclub.com/covid. Eligibility will be determined by the states for who can receive the vaccine.

Hy-Vee, CVS, and Walgreens said, while they are working to vaccinate the public in other states, none of them will be doing it in the Kansas City area right now.

Hy-Vee confirmed it has been named a national partner in both Iowa and South Dakota. The company said it anticipates receiving vaccine from the CDC during the week of Feb. 8, but the vaccine is only for individuals living in those states. It did not have an update to share regarding vaccinations in Kansas or Missouri, or when the company’s pharmacies in either state would begin vaccinating the public.

CVS, which also operates pharmacies inside Target locations, shared the same message.

In a statement, CVS said it will receive limited vaccine supply from the federal government to vaccinate eligible people in 11 states starting February 11. Kansas and Missouri are not included in that plan.

Walgreens confirmed in a news release that it is working with cities and states in a number of locations. Again, Kansas and Missouri, including the Kansas City metro, are not included in those plans.

All three companies say they are working with state and federal officials to expand vaccinations across the country and the number of states they are able to administer the vaccine.

We asked the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for their thoughts about the Biden administration’s new plan involving pharmacies.

The KDHE responded saying it’s received notification that the National Retail Pharmacy will be turned on next week. It is a program coordinated at the federal level. The statement went on to read, at this time, we have not been provided information specific to how many does will be coming to Kansas pharmacies. We hope to have more information to share soon.

We are waiting for a response from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

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