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Retail pharmacies, global tech giants support COVID-19 mass vaccination efforts in US

*Several pharmacies say they are prepared to administer COVID-19 vaccines in their stores, just as tech giants Google, Microsoft and Amazon disclose they will help with the national vaccine rollout with some converting some of their spaces into COVID-19 vaccination clinics, besides cash donations to promote vaccine education and distribution across the United States

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

As the United States Government ramps up efforts at vaccinating millions of Americans against the damaging Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic daily, several retail pharmacies in US, and global tech giants Google, Microsoft and Amazon are stepping up to help the authorities in responding to the re-invigorated Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine rollout in the country.

Report says starting soon, several of the pharmacies say they will administer the vaccine in their stores.

ConsumerConnect reports this groundswell of support for the vaccine rollout becomes imperative in view of President Joe Biden’s suggestion Monday, at a press conference in Washington, that the country could do 1.5 million vaccinations per day, as opposed to his health team’s earlier projected 1,000,00o doses a day.

Dr. Cheryl Pegus, Walmart’s Executive Vice-President of Health and Wellness, in a blog post disclosed  the company has the ability to provide the vaccine seven days a week at more than 5,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies.

Pegus wrote: “As we look to a future when supply can meet demand and more people are eligible to receive the vaccine, we plan to offer the vaccine seven days a week at our pharmacies, through planned in-store vaccination clinics, and through large community events.”

CVS and Walgreens have been working together to vaccinate at-risk populations in the nation’s long-term care facilities, report stated.

Both companies now say they are ready to pivot to providing vaccinations at their pharmacies and in-store clinics.

John Standley, President of Walgreens, said: “Thanks to the dedication of tens of thousands of Walgreens pharmacy team members. We have been able to provide 1 million COVID-19 vaccinations to those who need them most in just one month.”

Standley, though acknowledges the well-publicised challenges, he said the process was already becoming smoother as government jurisdictions have continued to advance their prioritisation and distribution plans.

CVS Health also noted it has hired an additional 10,000 pharmacy technicians, pharmacists, and nurses to implement its part of the vaccine rollout and to help with testing.

The company says it has administered over 12,000 doses of the vaccine to date.

The retailers say they stand ready to help whenever Federal and state governments open vaccinations to the public at large, and more importantly, provide an adequate amount of vaccine.

Many states have reported vaccine shortages, making it difficult to meet the demand from Americans who want the shots.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at the weekend, said the current government has no idea how much vaccine is available, and that puts states across the US in a bind.

The development is said to have confirmed the Biden administration’s revelation last week that the precious Donald Trump administration had no definitive vaccine rollout plan.

Walensky had told Fox News Sunday, “if they don’t know how much vaccine they’re getting not just this week but next week and the week after they can’t plan.

“They can’t figure out how many sites to roll out; they can’t figure out how many vaccinators that they need; and they can’t figure out how many appointments to make for the public.”

Meanwhile, global tech giant Google says it will convert some of its spaces into COVID-19 vaccination clinics to support the vaccine rollout efforts in the country.

Stressing the company is committed to doing its part to help with the vaccine rollout,

Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Google, in a blog post, said COVID-19 vaccines would be distributed at Google’s “buildings, parking lots and open spaces” in a number of major metropolitan areas, agency report stated.

According to Pichai, such locations to be converted to vaccination centres include campuses in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, and Kirkland, Washington.

The clinics will be set up in accordance with guidance from local health officials once enough doses become available, said he.

Google said the action was made possible through a partnership with One Medical and public health authorities.

He stated: “The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected every community all over the world.

“It’s also inspired coordination between public and private sectors, and across international borders, on a remarkable scale. We can’t slow down now.”

The company further noted that it plans to expand the sites nationally over time, as it also pledged $150 million to promote vaccine education and distribution.

Pichai wrote: “While there is much uncertainty still ahead, the development of multiple safe vaccines in such a short time gives us reason for hope.

“We recognise that getting vaccines to people is a complex problem to solve, and we’re committed to doing our part.”

More tech companies are also stepping up in assisting with the vaccine rollout, as Google isn’t the only tech giant lending a hand in the effort to immunise people. Microsoft has also announced that it will allow its campus in Redmond, Washington to be used as a vaccine distribution site.

Amazon has also offered up its facilities, saying in a letter to the Biden administration last week that it’s “prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts.”

Amazon asked for workers at its fulfillment centres, data centres, and Whole Foods stores to receive vaccines at the “earliest appropriate time.”

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