COVID-19 vaccinations have continued to ramp up across the country and that is great news for public health and businesses. For some companies, vaccination has become their business. A national vaccine rollout of this scale is a considerable task and the federal and local governments decided to partner with some major corporations to facilitate the process. The CDC is currently partnered with 21 pharmacies including Albertson’s, CVS, and Publix Super Markets Inc. The majority of these chains are drug or grocery stores with Walmart being the exception. This partnership has been beneficial to citizens across the U.S. particularly with the participation of more regional companies like Meijer and Publix. It has also been a boon for the pharmacies that have seen increased foot traffic due to vaccinations.

Many of the partnered pharmacies have revealed milestones of total vaccinations. In mid-March, Publix surpassed 1 million vaccinations and by the beginning of April CVS had administered 10 million. Walgreens surpassed the 5 million mark in the beginning of March and recently announced that they are offing the shots in 49 states. At the end of March, Meijer had administered 500,000 doses and expanded vaccination to all of their stores. The large variance in numbers occurred because supply of the vaccine is limited and the CDC delegated the rollout to local governments. The state administration made individual deals with these companies and made determinations about eligibility for the shots. Some have even come under scrutiny about how each pharmacy was chosen and time will bear out the facts of these negotiations. Each state is on its own timeline and some have lagged behind, which explains why some of the larger pharmacies expanding operations to all available stores.  The deadline for every state to open eligibility to all adults is around the corner and we should see the vaccination numbers for each of these pharmacies skyrocket.

COVID-19 has been an “all hands on deck” situation and the vaccine rollout is no different. The involvement of these large pharmacies has benefited the public health, but there are other advantages as well. Administering the COVID-19 vaccine adds a public image boost and while none of these companies are small, the increase in public trust is a good for business. The increase in foot traffic is also good for revenue, especially at a time when brick and mortar has really struggled. All of these companies offer some kind of retail goods and vaccine recipients are encouraged to browse as they await their appointment or linger to ensure there is no reaction. The companies have also taken the opportunity to attach some branding and public service announcements to their vaccinations. Walgreens has specially branded bandages they give to vaccine recipients and others have flooded local and national airwaves with advertisements touting each company’s ability to protect the public. These are clever bits of marketing as the companies are helping others while helping themselves.

The pandemic is certainly not behind us; however, we have more tools to work with than we did a year ago. Pharmacies that were struggling to acquire tests in 2020 are now putting vaccine shots in the arms of customers. It is a remarkable achievement and the cooperation of these chains has hastened the rollout of this life saving measure. The pharmacies administering the vaccine have already seen the benefit of their partnership with the CDC and soon other retailers and restaurants will see those benefits as well.