As distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine begins at a rapid pace, Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy will be one of the first retailers in the nation to offer the vaccine, as it becomes available.
To maximize access to COVID-19 vaccines for all Americans, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced a governmental partnership with large chain pharmacies and networks that represent independent pharmacies and regional chains – including those in retail and grocery chains – to further increase access to the vaccine across the country — particularly in traditionally underserved areas. Brookshire Brothers is partnering with HHS and the states of Texas and Louisiana in offering COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccine will be available in a phased approach, with the first doses being offered to health care workers and residents of long-term health care facilities, followed by essential workers and other high-risk individuals. It is expected to be available to the general public by spring or early summer of 2021 and will be administered at no cost to patients.
“Ensuring access and affordability of the COVID-19 vaccine for all Americans is a top priority for the Trump Administration,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “We are leveraging the existing private sector infrastructure to get safe and effective vaccines supported by Operation Warp Speed into communities and into arms as quickly as possible with no out-of-pocket costs. The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, and our new agreement with pharmacy partners across America is a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available.”
Many pharmacists, such as the ones who work at Lufkin, Texas-based Brookshire Brothers, are trained to provide immunizations and are already immunizers in their communities. Pharmacists have been heralded for playing a vital role in the public health response to COVID-19 by counseling patients and expanding access to childhood vaccinations during the pandemic. By working with these partners, the federal government will rapidly expand access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“This is consistent with our commitment to being a trusted resource for our communities. Pharmacists and their staff are some of the most accessible health care professionals in the nation, and we stand ready to help increase access and convenience for people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, once it is approved and available to us,” said Laura Edmundson, director of clinical pharmacy programs at Brookshire Brothers.