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CVS Health gears up for widespread COVID-19 vaccine distribution at pharmacies

CINCINNATI — As COVID-19 vaccine distribution ramps up, questions remain about how doses will get out to the public.

CVS Health officials said they have the experience to get it done.


What the pharmacy chain has learned from administering flu shots and COVID-19 testing will help them get doses out quickly as states move into new phases.

"Retail pharmacies are the foundation of the approach here. Both because we are convenient and we are everywhere and where we're not we can do other types of clinics to reach people. We have the best chance to reach the public," said CVS Health Exec. VP & Chief Medical Officer Dr. Troy Brennan.

CVS Health said when COVID-19 vaccines are more widely available, its pharmacies will be able to administer 20-25 million shots every month.

That's enough for at least 10 million people to get both doses.

"We can put appropriate screening questions in place and make sure the people who we should be vaccinating at this particular stage are the people who should be vaccinated. This is going to be an issue over the course of the next six to eight weeks, but it's only going to be an issue over that period of time. Sooner or later we're going to start flowing out lots of vaccinations and we're going to get to everybody. I think everybody in the country is going to be eligible by the time of late April, early May," said Brennan.

The timeline in Ohio isn't concrete, but Gov. Mike Dewine said Phase 1B vaccinations should begin the week of Jan. 19.

That includes people 80 years and older.

The plan lays it out week by week.

Ohioans 75 years and older along with those with severe congenital or developmental disorders follow Jan. 25, with K-12 employees on Feb. 1.

CVS Health said COVID-19 vaccines will be by appointment only.

You will be able to register online, on the app or by phone.

Both appointments for the first and second shots will be booked at the same time.

"These vaccines and their effectiveness has been a gamechanger," said Brennan.

A CVS Health spokesman said they are hiring pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to meet demand.