Florida Walmarts and Sam’s Clubs will receive 25,000 doses of the COVID vaccine at their pharmacies by the end of this week and begin giving them to seniors.
Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared with company executives at a Walmart Supercenter in Jacksonville Tuesday to announce 119 Walmarts across 34 counties will begin giving out shots on Friday. DeSantis said about 10 of those Walmart stores are in Broward and some are in Miami-Dade County, both of which had lacked pharmacies providing the vaccines.
“Walmart has so many people who shop here, if you look at the setup I think it will move smoothly and wind up being a good experience,” DeSantis said. The doses are in addition to the 325,000 the state expects to receive from the federal government this week. Walmart’s allotment is part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which aims to speed up vaccine distribution by giving doses directly to pharmacies.
Walmart and Sam’s Club already are vaccinating in Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the city of Chicago and 16 states.
“We are excited to be part of the solution for vaccines,” said Monesia Brown, a director of public affairs and government relations for Walmart. “We want people to know there are resources right here in their communities.”
Publix and Winn-Dixie pharmacies in Florida also will receive shipments of the COVID vaccine through this program. The Publix allotment is in addition to doses provided by the state. DeSantis said Tuesday that because of the federal pharmacy program, Publix will expand from giving vaccines at 325 pharmacies to 600 Publix stores across 41 counties.
Southeastern Grocers Inc., the parent company of Winn-Dixie grocery stores, as well as Fresco y Más and Harveys Supermarket locations, says it will have 8,100 Moderna vaccines starting Thursday. The company will offer the vaccines to health care workers, residents and staff of long-term-care facilities, as well as people ages 65 and older. You can sign up at winndixie.com/pharmacy/covid-vaccine
The Publix chain has been offering COVID-19 vaccine sign-ups twice a week since Jan. 20 and gradually has added more Florida counties in its vaccine rollout. Publix is offering vaccines in 23 counties in Florida, including Palm Beach County, as well as in the Florida Keys in Monroe County. Publix pharmacies in Broward and Miami-Dade counties haven’t yet been added. You can sign up at publix.com/covid-vaccine/florida.
The governor said Florida will continue to vaccinate its seniors first. Those younger with co-morbidities can get vaccinated at Florida hospitals, which are getting 30,000 doses a week. He doesn’t want Publix and Walmart to vaccinate that group at this time.
“Once we see demand start softening, we will expand the footprint wider,” he said. “That could be people 63 and 64 and different occupations. But for now, we are keeping our eye on the ball and sticking with seniors. We still have a lot of seniors who want appointments.”
DeSantis said it would take at least a couple more weeks to get through the seniors who want to be vaccinated. If Johnson & Johnson gains approval for a one-dose COVID vaccine, that could speed up when the state could expand vaccination to other groups.
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