The Biden administration has announced that it will begin shipping about one million Covid-19 vaccine doses a week directly to thousands of local pharmacies in an attempt to speed up the American inoculation effort.
The vaccines sent to pharmacies will be in addition to the millions of doses sent weekly to states, territories and tribes, reports NPR.
The programme will begin with vaccines trucked to about 6,500 stores nationwide, Jeff Zients, the White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator, told reporters on Tuesday.
He said that the effort would then scale up and that eventually up to 40,000 retail pharmacies would receive doses directly from the federal government.
Once the programme starts, Zients said, those wishing to get vaccinated should follow their state’s current eligibility requirements and, if eligible, then check with their local pharmacy to see if there is vaccine availability.
Zients stressed that equity of vaccine distribution is a key component of the pharmacy effort, as in many places around the US, white people are getting vaccinated at much higher rates than people of colour.
“Pharmacy sites are selected based on their ability to reach some of the populations most at risk for severe illness,” said Zients, who added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will monitor the site data for equity concerns.
President Joe Biden has pledged to get 100 million vaccine doses into American arms in the first 100 days of his administration. That pace, of one million doses a day, is already being surpassed. White House officials have called Biden’s goal “a floor, not a ceiling”.