Walmart Just Made a Major COVID Announcement for Customers

This big move will affect multiple Walmart locations in several states.

From public mask mandates to employee vaccine requirements, retailers all across the U.S. have had to adapt to work during the coronavirus pandemic. And the fight is far from over. Just this month alone, Walmart has had to put a purchasing limit on at-home COVID tests to prevent shoppers from hoarding tests amid a significant increase in demand, as well as temporarily close locations across the country to initiate extra sanitation measures. Now, the retailer has made yet another COVID announcement that you'll want to hear about. Read on to discover Walmart's latest step in the fight against COVID.

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Walmart will start selling COVID pills this week.

Scientist with medical mask showing white pill. Research concept. Selective focus.

On Dec. 29, Walmart released an announcement notifying customers that Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies will be receiving and selling two COVID antiviral medications this week: Paxlovid and Molnupiravir. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Pfizer's Paxlovid pill on Dec. 22 and Merck's Molnupiravir pill on Dec. 23, making these the first two antiviral medications for COVID available in the U.S. According to the FDA, Pfizer's pill is authorized for high-risk individuals with COVID 12 years or older, and Merck's pill is authorized for high-risk COVID patients 18 years or older.

"This medication offers customers the option to recover at home and helps reduce the burden on our hospitals and communities. As we have since the beginning of the pandemic, we're proud to support our communities through everyday essentials, healthy food, vaccines, medication and other health care needs as we all work together to weather the pandemic," Kevin Host, Walmart's senior vice president of pharmacy, said in a statement.

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But only certain stores will be selling these medications at first.

People exit the Walmart store on December 24, 2020 in Valley Stream, NY.

According to Walmart's statement, the medication will only be available at certain locations in a limited number of states right now, "until more supply is available." Currently, stores in states such as Texas, Tennessee, and Kansas have already received shipments of the antiviral COVID pills to distribute this week.

"We are committed to working with our state and federal partners to provide access to new treatment options like authorized COVID-19 antiviral medications, as they become available," Host said.

You must have a prescription to purchase either medication from Walmart.

Walmart curbside pickup sign, walmart employee secrets

Both Pfizer and Merck's antiviral pills will only be available at Walmart or Sam's Club locations if an individual has a prescription from a certified health care provider. The company said that customers and healthcare providers can use Walmart's store locator to determine the nearest store or club carrying this medication in order to send an electronic prescription there.

"Since the COVID-19 antiviral medications are prescribed to those with COVID-19, it will only be available at Walmart and Sam's Club by curbside pickup or via drive-through pharmacy windows," Walmart also said in its statement. "Please do not enter the store" if you are picking up this medication, the company added in a warning on its website.

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Other drugstores will be offering the two COVID medications as well.

The Rite Aid Pharmacy, a retail chain throughout the country

Walmart isn't the sole retailer responsible for distributing these pills. In Pennsylvania, the state's department of health is sending its first shipments of Pfizer and Merck's medications to chain pharmacies, including Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens. Rite Aid has said it anticipated having "very limited quantities" of the Pfizer and Merck pills "as early as next week in a very limited number of stores," a spokeswoman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Dec. 30. But neither CVS nor Walgreens have made any official statements about the medication's rollout in its stores.

"Even when it comes into circulation, not every pharmacy is going to have access to it," Patrick Lavella, a pharmacist and principal at Hilltop Pharmacy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

The rollout is also expected to be slow and availability will be sparse as both manufacturers work to ramp up production. According to White House officials, the manufacturing process to make these pills is complex so they can take six to eight months to make.

"The sobering news is, unfortunately, it is really a quite complicated and complex synthetic process, which we will be working with the company to figure out how we can help alleviate the stress of the long duration that it takes to make it," top White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, said at a Dec. 22 press briefing. "Hopefully we'll be able to shorten that process by working closely with them."

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