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How will the COVID-19 vaccine process work at the pharmacy?


Some of the first Americans could get COVID-19 vaccinations in just a matter of days.

There will be a major effort to make sure patients get both doses at the right time.

 Two major pharmacies are working with the federal government to lead the charge across the country, including here in Greater Cincinnati.

CVS Health and Walgreens are already working to get the most vulnerable vaccinated, but there's also work underway to get shots to everyone as soon as possible.

"Our plan is to be ready to go as early as Dec. 15 waiting for the state approvals," said Dr. Troy Brennan, Chief Medical Officer of CVS Health.

Brennan is optimistic about getting started on vaccinating America's most vulnerable against COVID-19 once the Food and Drug Administration gives authorization.

But the familiar CVS and Walgreens pharmacies in your neighborhood are also planning to protect you, as soon as COVID-19 vaccines are available to everyone.

CVS Health said patients will schedule a first dose and booster shot at the same time.

To keep things straight, it said patients will get a detailed, mandated vaccine information card after the first dose.

The CVS app is part of the plan to keep people from forgetting their booster shot by sending reminders.

"Not only ourselves and Walgreens, but there's going to be a number of other pharmacy chains and grocers who will be involved in it and I think that using all those various outlets, we're going to have very good penetration across the United States," Brennan said.

Walgreen's expects to have trained pharmacists and immunizing technicians in 9,000 stores who will give the vaccine "sometime in 2021."

CVS Health estimates by spring, trained immunizers could start vaccinating people at its more than 9,900 pharmacies.

Officials said that could translate to 20 to 25 million shots given each month.

"We will keep after you to make sure you come back for that second vaccination," Brennan said.

CVS Health said the type of vaccine it gets will be determined by the federal government's methodology.

According to websites for CVS Health and Walgreens, both will be prepared for the cold storage needed for the vaccine doses.

CVS Health said as it stands right now, it will help with vaccinations at more than 1,400 long-term care facilities across Ohio.

Officials said between residents, patients and staff, that will mean more than 130,000 Ohioans getting vaccinated against COVID-19.