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Walmart prepares to administer COVID-19 vaccine once it's approved

The company is preparing its pharmacies and employees for when a COVID-19 vaccine will be available in the U.S.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart is taking steps to prepare to administer a COVID-19 vaccine once one is approved in the United States.

In a press release, Dr. Tom Van Gilder, Chief Medical Officer for Walmart said in part:

"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. 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."

Dr. Van Gilder shared the following statements about the upcoming vaccines:

  • There are multiple vaccine candidates, and they are showing real promise; the effectiveness is better than expected. That is tremendous progress and a good sign. The vaccines are showing impressive safety data as well. The Food and Drug Administration’s processes are designed to deliver a safe, effective vaccine; however, no vaccine provides complete coverage, and most vaccines have side effects. In trials so far, the vaccines have shown side effects of flu-like symptoms in about 10% to 15% of recipients, but there have been no reports of serious side effects.
  • The federal government will allocate the vaccine to states, and states will determine who should receive the first doses of the vaccine and when. Walmart will not have any say in who can receive the vaccine, but we are ready to support states once they do.
  • The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a division of CDC, recommends health care workers and residents and workers in long-term care facilities receive the first doses.
  • The first vaccines to be approved are likely to require two doses and will be available in limited quantities. So, as most of us await the vaccine, we must remain vigilant: maintain social distancing, continue our enhanced hygiene practices, avoid large gatherings and wear face coverings when out in public.
  • For the vaccines that require two doses, the doses need to be separated by 21 or 28 days, depending on which vaccine a person receives. So, it will be important to ensure people return for a second dose of the same vaccine at the right time, or the vaccine will not be effective.

Walmart pharmacists give millions of shots a year and they are trained under strict, up-to-date guidelines to be able to administer vaccines. In addition, the company is making the following preparations:

  • Preparing our 5,000+ Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies to receive the vaccine doses, including making sure they have freezers in all of the pharmacies, as well as dry ice to handle any requirements for storing the vaccine
  • Entering into agreements with states to be able to support vaccinations where needed, whether that is in pharmacies or long-term care facilities where the states determine they need help
  • Putting in place processes to inform people of when to receive the first and second doses and to report successful vaccinations
  • Educating associates about the vaccine, so when they are determined to be eligible, they will understand and be ready to receive the vaccine if they choose

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