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The US’ Covid vaccine rollout started last month, and Washington is looking to accelerate the program in the hopes of curbing the spread of the virus and relaxing social distancing rules as soon as possible.
White House Covid response coordinator Jeff Zients has announced that they are aiming for around 40,000 pharmacies to eventually be administering coronavirus vaccines as part of their efforts to scale the vaccine rollout.
He specified that initially, some 6,500 pharmacies will receive 1 million doses of the various Covid vaccines being used in the US.
“Eventually as we’re able to increase supply, up to 40,000 pharmacies nationwide could provide Covid-19 vaccinations,” Zients said, noting that CVS and Walgreens will be administering the vaccines in 20 states.
Ramping up Covid Vaccine Distribution
This latest push comes off the back of the US’ most deadly month of the pandemic, with almost 100,000 Americans losing their lives to coronavirus in January, according to data from the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, a senior Walgreens executive assured that they are able to administer Covid-19 vaccines in a safe and efficient fashion.
Speaking to CNBC earlier this month, Rick Gates, senior vice president of pharmacy and healthcare at Walgreens, said: “We’ll make sure our health care professionals are there to give them the vaccine and monitor them appropriately.”
Continuing, Gates said: “No, it’s not going to be out in parking lots, you’ll see it in our stores, but we’ll make sure we’ll have safe and appropriate places to do the vaccinations.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently accused pharmacies, Walgreens in particular, of “punching under their weight”.
“The big reason is the federal program with CVS and Walgreens. They basically amassed these doses, they schedule visits to long-term care nursing homes, extended living, and they’re punching under their weight, particularly Walgreens, and that’s where most of the yet to be used doses are,” Governor Murphy said.
Gates responded to this by emphasizing that they have considerably scaled up their vaccine rollout capacity in recent weeks.
“What we saw was a ramp-up of that, that has continued pretty religiously since that point. We vaccinated about a million long-term care residents in the first month and about a million in the last week alone, so you have seen a significant ramp-up in what we’re doing.”
It remains to be seen if Walgreens, CVS and other pharmacies will be able to hit the government’s target, but there will certainly be an increase in capacity over the coming weeks and months.
Do I Need to be Vaccinated to Fly Abroad?
Some countries may opt to require visitors to provide proof of vaccination to enter the country, though no popular tourist destinations have such a requirement in place at the moment.
If you’re an American looking to return to the US or a tourist visiting, you don’t need to be vaccinated but you are required to provide proof of a negative Covid PCR swab test conducted up to 72 hours before your flight takes off.
A Quick Summary
- The US is looking to ramp up its Covid-19 vaccine rollout, with around 40,000 pharmacies (such as Walgreens) set to start administering vaccines.
- A number of pharmacy chains were previously criticized for “punching under their weight”, but they are continuing to scale their capacity.
- January was the US’ worst-hit month, with almost 100,000 coronavirus deaths being reported.
- Experts believe these numbers should decline over the coming months, as more and more people are vaccinated, making it more difficult for the virus to spread within the general population.
- Some airlines may opt to require passengers to provide proof of vaccination to board their flights, and some countries may also require this upon arrival.