This Is Who Can Get the Leftover Vaccine at Walgreens, CVS, & Walmart

If you fall into one of these groups, you may be able to get one of the leftover doses.

One of the most discouraging facets of the U.S.'s slow vaccine rollout is that far too many doses have been going to waste when people don't show up for scheduled appointments. But now that the vaccine is becoming increasingly available at local pharmacies nationwide, that's about to change. Three big pharmacy chains, Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart, have recently revealed that if they have extra doses, they'll go to a select group of people. To see who is eligible for the leftover vaccine, read on, and to find out when every Walgreens will offer COVID shots, check out You'll Be Able to Get Vaccinated at Any Walgreens by This Date.

Eligible employees are getting first dibs at most pharmacies.

Pharmacy giving COVID vaccine

The available vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna must be stored between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit and -13 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit respectively. Once the vaccine thaws, it must be administered within six hours—otherwise, it's no longer viable. To avoid having to discard valuable doses of vaccine, some pharmacies, like CVS and Walgreens, are compiling waitlists of eligible employees to vaccinate, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Retailers are trying to navigate each state's eligibility requirements to determine who can earn a spot on the waitlist. While retail workers are currently eligible for the vaccine in some states, they're not in others. Of course, some employees may be eligible otherwise due to their age or preexisting conditions. To see if the Walgreens in your state has the COVID vaccine, check out If You Live in These States, You Can Now Get Vaccinated at Walgreens.

Walmart and CVS are also vaccinating eligible shoppers.

Masked senior woman getting a vaccine while at the pharmacy by a female pharmacist.

Pharmacists at CVS are also keeping a list of qualified patients in each state to determine who will receive leftover shots, senior vice president of CVS Health Chris Cox told CNBC.

A Walmart spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal they also plan to offer extra doses at risk of being thrown out to shoppers who qualify under state guidelines. To see if your local CVS is offering the COVID vaccine, check out If You Live in These States, You Can Now Get Vaccinated at CVS.

Some pharmacies are vaccinating employees, even if they're not eligible in a given state.

A healthcare worker wearing a face mask fills a syringe with a COVID-19 vaccine dose

According to The Wall Street Journal, "Companies say leftover doses, in many cases, can also go to workers who wouldn't otherwise qualify, such as cashiers."

While T.J. Crawford, a spokesperson for CVS, told Fortune that surplus doses are "minimal," he added: "In the rare instances where we do have expiring doses, we reach out to employees and customers who qualify. If we're not able to locate anyone from eligible populations, we'll make sure no dose goes to waste by vaccinating on-site employees." According to Fortune, Walmart has also said if no one eligible is available to use the excess vaccine at the end of the day, they'll move on to lower-priority groups where allowed.

This is in line with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which "supports optimizing the use of all COVID-19 vaccine." The agency's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices says sites should be "expanding vaccine availability to broader population groups when vaccine supply at a certain location is in danger of being unused. Pharmacies should use this guidance when making plans to ensure no dose is wasted." And for more up-to-date COVID news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Websites have launched to help Americans locate leftover vaccine.

Closeup of vials of vaccine
youngvet / iStock

Doctors don't recommend milling about your local vaccination site or pharmacy to see if they have an extra dose for you, since this could potentially lead to overcrowding. "I worry about the potential for infection," Leana Wen, MD, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, told PBS News Hour. "How tragic would it be if you were to contract coronavirus… while trying to get a dose of the vaccine?"

But with the goal of getting as many people vaccinated as possible and wasting as little of the vaccine as possible, websites like and have started waitlists to alert the public where excess doses may be available. Registered providers alert these sites how much vaccine they have leftover, the time remaining on their viability, and how many people they want to notify. Then, VaxStandby sends a text message to people in the area who've signed up to receive vaccine alerts, based on zip code, NBC Boston reports. And to see if your local Walmart is administering the COVID vaccine, check out If You Live in These States, You Can Now Get Vaccinated at Walmart.

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