While millions have been receiving their coronavirus vaccines already, some have turned to CVS and Walgreens for their doses.
Small pharmacies across the nation say they can play a crucial role in delivering vaccines. While major chains are getting more shots from the federal, state, and local governments, independent pharmacies are getting frustrated that they aren’t receiving the same amount.
Brian Caswell, the owner of Wolkar Drug in Baxter Springs, Kansas, has been trying to get vaccines for his pharmacy. Caswell mentioned how he thinks it is essential for his business to help with the vaccine rollout.
The pharmacy owner made sure to buy freezers for storage and hire additional employees to give out the vaccines. He also was able to purchase scheduling software to help with the rollout.
“Everybody stepped up to do everything that the CDC asked,” he said. “The only thing that we couldn’t get was vaccines.”
Despite a decline in privately owned pharmacies, the number of family-owned businesses is notable. Data confirms that about 1 in 3 of the country’s 60,000 pharmacies are independently owned.
“There’s been, in our opinion, an overweighted focus on two big chains: CVS and Walgreens,” said Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). “The rollout of the vaccine will not be successful without incorporating local pharmacies into the distribution and administration.”
USA Today confirmed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not respond to a request for statement.
However, since supplies are limited while manufacturing builds up, the CDC has said, “many pharmacies may not have a vaccine or may have very limited supply.”
“Obviously, these larger pharmacies have the infrastructure in place or they can build the infrastructure,” Arun Sundaram, an equity analyst for CFRA Research who tracks Walgreens and Rite Aid, said. “All of them have been playing a huge role in the COVID-19 testing, and now they’re also partnering with the government to administer vaccines.”