BENTONVILLE (dpa-AFX) - Walmart is preparing its pharmacies to distribute Covid-19 vaccine across the United States, once a vaccine is approved in the country. The company said it will not have any say in who can receive the vaccine, but is ready to support states once they do.
The news comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's vaccine advisory committee recommended the emergency use of Pfizer Inc. and German biotech firm BioNTech SE's mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2. The FDA is expected to make a decision on emergency use authorization in the coming days. If authorized, it would be the first COVID-19 vaccine available in the U.S.
In a statement, Walmart said that once a vaccine is approved, the federal government will allocate the vaccine to states, and states will determine who should receive the first doses of the vaccine and when.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a division of CDC, recommends that health care workers and residents and workers in long-term care facilities receive the first doses.
Walmart Chief Medical Officer Tom Van Gilder detailed the steps the company is taking to prepare its operations and clinical services.
The retail giant, which has already entered into agreements with the federal government to distribute the vaccine, said its 5000+ Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies are gearing up to receive the vaccine doses. They are ensuring the availability of freezers in all pharmacies, as well as dry ice to handle any requirements for storing the vaccine.
The company is also entering into agreements with states to be able to support vaccinations where needed, either in its pharmacies or long-term care facilities.
The Walmart pharmacists already give millions of shots a year, and they are trained under strict, up-to-date guidelines to be able to administer vaccines, the retail major said.
Further, processes are in place to inform people about the timing of first and second doses, as well as to report successful vaccinations.
The company urged public to remain vigilant, maintain social distancing, and wear face coverings, among other things, during the vaccine waiting time, noting that the first vaccines to be approved will be available in limited quantities.
The company said, 'With 90% of the American population living within 10 miles of a Walmart, we will play an important part in making sure those who want a vaccine can get one when they are eligible based on their state's prioritization, especially those in hard to reach parts of the country that have recently been hit hard by the epidemic.'
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX
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