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Retail Industry Updates

Walmart Says It’s in ‘Unique’ Position to Help with Vaccine Rollout

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The country has been criticized for a cumbersome rollout of the vaccines to combat COVID-19, but at least one retailer said it’s ready to do what it takes to get involved and help.

That would be Walmart.

“Today, at the dawn of the most significant vaccine rollout of our lifetimes, Walmart again stands ready to serve,” said Cheryl Pegus, Ph.D. and executive vice president of Walmart’s health and wellness. “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.

Pegus said Walmart has been preparing by:

• Training thousands of pharmacists and pharmacy techs.

• Building a new digital scheduling tool to make appointments easy.

• Partnering with state and federal agencies as it awaits for allocations.

“At full capacity, we expect we will be able to deliver 10-13 million doses per month when supply and allocations allow,” Pegus said.

How will the nation’s largest retailer do the latter?

Pegus said Walmart and Sam’s Club operate more than 5,000 pharmacies in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, many of which serve underserved communities and the heart of rural America. “With 150 million people passing through our doors each week, we’re in a unique position to reach people where they already shop,” she added. “We’re also a federal pharmacy partner and can accept federal allocation of doses in all our Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies. Specifically, there are key areas where we stand ready to help ensure Americans have access to the vaccine.”

One of those key areas is what many call “health care deserts,” mostly rural locations where there are few options for customers to find health care. “We have nearly 4,000 Walmart locations that are positioned within one or more of the federally designated medically underserved areas or where there are limited pharmacy options,” Pegus said.

The second is through COVID-19 vaccination events in underserved communities. “Walmart has the reach and the qualified, trained pharmacists and pharmacy staff to partner with community organizations to provide vaccination services at third-party locations like churches, stadiums and youth centers,” she added.

Pegus noted that the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is doing everything it can to help ensure the health and well-being of its associates and customers during the pandemic.

“That includes keeping everyone updated and informed,” she said. “We’re educating essential workers and all associates on getting the vaccine as soon as they are eligible. We are strongly encouraging all associates to get vaccinated but are not mandating anyone receive the vaccine nor are we providing incentives at this time.

“We look forward to the day we can activate our strengths to serve our communities and administer the vaccine.”

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