Covid vaccinations for the general public ‘won’t be chaos,’ assures Walgreens executive

Rick Gates, senior vice president of pharmacy and healthcare at Walgreens, told CNBC that getting vaccines to the general public “won’t be chaos” as the FDA authorized Moderna‘s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use and set plans in motion to get states nearly 6 million doses by early next week.   

“What you’re going to see, is we’re going to be very thoughtful on how we’re going to schedule appointments, how we’re going to work with the communities that we’re in, the states that we’re in, on priority populations, to make sure there’s not long lines out pharmacy’s doors and make sure people have safe, convenient, and efficient ways to get vaccines,” Gates said.

Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine rolled out in long-term care facilities Friday and pharmacists from Walgreens administered many of those shots. The federal government has agreements with Walgreens and other pharmacies, including CVS, to vaccinate millions of people across the country. In a Friday evening interview with “The News with Shepard Smith,” Gates described how the training received by the organization’s pharmacists prepare them to effectively administer the Covid-19 vaccine.

“The safety protocol we’ve given to our pharmacists on training, up front, how to look for allergic reactions, how to make sure they’re monitoring patients post-vaccine, it’s all part of the normal process,” Gates said. 

So far, the United States has vaccinated at least 66,000 people, according to publicly available data collected from 20 states, and that number is expected to rise dramatically as more states report their numbers. Gates acknowledged that the vaccination process includes a lot of organization, but underscored that “vaccines are what we do very consistently, and monitoring patients after a vaccine is a very common thing that we do think about flu shots, Shingrix, or other vaccines that are out there.”

Host Shepard Smith asked Gates how Walgreens would handle turning people away who come to their pharmacies to get a vaccination, but are not in a priority population. Gates explained that vaccines will be pre-scheduled and will not be given “walk-up” format, like the flu shots. He added that Walgreens pharmacies around the country will be working with states and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure those who need vaccines, get them. Gates added that there would also be reminders for people to get their second dose. 

“For the population. we’ll have all sorts of reminders, phone calls, if we need to, to make sure that Americans know they need to get that second dose, and the proper timing for that dose as well,” Gates said.

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