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What does the 'Federal Retail Pharmacy Program' mean for Hoosiers?

More COVID vaccine doses, that's what
Posted at 9:59 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 06:29:16-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The National Pharmacy Vaccination Program under the Biden Administration is set to bring 20,000 more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Indiana, according to State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced it is expanding the pool of partners to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 40,000 pharmacies across the country.

The federal program includes partnerships with Kroger, Walmart and CVS. But not all three will immediately be options for Hoosiers to get COVID-19 vaccinations.

“We all know what a difficult period this has been, and this gives us a cause of optimism as we look towards a normal life,” Kroger spokesperson Eric Halvorson said. Here in Indiana, Kroger seems to be the first federal partner helping get shots in Hoosiers arms.

“This enables us to expand the vaccine reach in Indiana,” Halvorson said.

Last week, Kroger began vaccinating eligible Hoosiers in 45 stores across 16 counties after state leaders announced the two would be working together. Now, the grocery chain is a part of the federal program and Halvorson said that means all Indiana stores with pharmacies will be distributing the vaccine.

“The simplest way to describe is to say we will have 100 doses per store, per week,” Halvorson said. The earliest the program will begin is next Thursday. “As soon as more doses are available, we will elevate the number of doses in each store and reach as many more people as possible,” Halvorson said.

Walmart has several locations already distributing the vaccine as it too was announced as a state partner last week. After Tuesday’s federal announcement, a spokesperson told us a full list of stores participating will be available in the coming weeks.

As for CVS, two Indiana pharmacies are already providing vaccines, but not under the federal rollout.

A CVS Health spokesperson released this statement:

“The State of Indiana has partnered with CVS to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to a limited, pre-determined number of high-risk individuals.

These vaccinations will be offered in two counties that have been determined by the State of Indiana, beginning with people aged 80 and older. Individuals who meet the state-determined criteria should visit [] or call 2-1-1 to register for vaccination.

The future availability of COVID-19 vaccines in other CVS Pharmacy retail locations will be announced at a later date. CVS cannot accommodate any walk-in vaccinations at this time. We will also continue to administer COVID-19 vaccines at skilled nursing facilities and other long-term care facilities throughout the state.”

Last week, the state partnered with Meijer, Kroger and Walmart where vaccine distribution has started at select stores. All require an appointment.

To learn how to sign up if you are eligible, click here.