Here's When the COVID Vaccine Is Coming to Your Local Pharmacy

Walgreens and CVS Health say shots for the general public could be showing up in just months.

The first shipments of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine that were shipped out this week are slated to be given to healthcare workers, nursing home residents, and other high-risk groups, but a timeline for when the general public will be able to receive their inoculations is beginning to come into view. And according to executives from some of the nation's top pharmacies, COVID vaccines could arrive at your local pharmacy as soon as early spring.

The news marks the next phase of a partnership that was created between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and almost 20 drugstores and grocers in the U.S. in November, CNBC reports. Many of the chains involved will also have a hand in early administration of the vaccine. Read on to see when each pharmacy expects to get their first doses, and for more vaccine news, check out You Shouldn't Do This Right After Getting a COVID Vaccine, Expert Warns.


the outside of a Walgreens in Cincinnati, Ohio

Walgreens is one of two major chains helping to administer vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities and nursing homes. But the pharmacy's executives anticipate that they will receive enough vaccine doses in the coming months to be able to start administering shots to members of the general public at their 9,021 locations in all 50 states. "Over the next couple of months we anticipate that we'll be able to have [it in] our stores similar to the flu season," Rina Shah, group vice president of pharmacy operations at Walgreens, said during a Dec. 14 interview on CNBC's The Exchange, clarifying that would "hopefully in the spring timeframe."

Shah also explained that it was important to take care of high-risk populations first before moving on to the general public as there still aren't enough doses to go around. "As more and more vaccine becomes available, access to that vaccine will continue to grow," she added. And for more on who could potentially get you sick, check out This Is the Person Who Is Most Likely to Give You COVID, Study Finds.


exterior of a CVS Store in Columbus, Ohio

CVS is lending a hand alongside Walgreens in vaccinating high-risk populations during the early phases of the rollout, and is also optimistic they will see shipments of doses arrive for the general public at their more than 9,900 locations across 49 states within months. In an interview with CNBC, Chris Cox, senior vice president of CVS, was hopeful that the pharmacy's locations would be able to begin administering doses to the general public "somewhere in the April/May timeframe."

But Cox also shed some light on how the process will look and how they intend to handle the two doses required for full inoculation. "When someone makes their appointment, we're going to educate them right then and there that this is a two-shot vaccine and we're going to have them schedule it just like a round-trip plane ticket, where they're going to schedule both of their doses at the same time," he told CNBC. And for more on who's most at risk of having a dire case, check out If You Have This Blood Type, You're at a High Risk of Severe COVID.


Exterior of a Costco store
Sheila Fitzgerald /

Costco is also planning on being a part of the COVID vaccination process. During a Dec. 14 interview on CNBC's Closing Bell, Costco CEO Craig Jelinek said that the general public would likely be able to get their inoculations at one of the chain's more than 500 pharmacy locations as soon as early spring as well. And for more on what comes after your jab, check out Dr. Fauci Says This Is When You'll Be Able to Throw Away Your Face Mask.


Walmart store exterior

Naturally, the nation's largest retailer is already preparing for vaccines to arrive for the public. According to a company announcement, locations are being outfitted with extra freezer space and pharmacy locations are being supplied with dry ice to ensure they can store the temperature-sensitive shipments when they arrive in early spring.

"We have been on quite a journey the last several months, from entering into agreements with the federal government to distribute the vaccine, to preparing our operations and clinical services, all to get ready to be one of the places our customers and associates can receive the vaccine," Chief Medical Officer of Walmart Tom Van Gilder, MD, said in the statement. "I know we are all ready to get back to normal and enjoy life beyond the epidemic, and these vaccines will help us do that." And for more on how we'll get back to normal, check out Dr. Fauci Says This Many People Need to Get Vaccinated to Stop COVID.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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