How CVS, Walmart, and other retailers will distribute leftover COVID-19 vaccines


With COVID-19 vaccinations underway at many retailers and pharmacies, workers have been tasked with figuring out a plan to distribute the excess vaccines.

Since the vaccines have a short shelf life once they are removed from cold storage and thawed, they must be administered within hours or they go to waste.

To avoid that, companies have decided to utilize a waitlist program to deliver the left over vaccines, which remain in short supply, per The Wall Street Journal 

Many companies are also considering using the extra supply to vaccinate eligible employees. However, since eligibility requirements vary according to state and local guidelines, retailers must determine who qualifies before distributing any excess vaccines.

A Walmart spokesperson told CNBC that they are working with state health departments on protocols to distribute the excess supply to eligible candidates in order of priority.

Senior vice president of CVS Health Chris Cox told the outlet that pharmacists at participating stores will also keep a list of qualified patients.

The WSJ noted that starting Thursday, over 6,500 retail locations in 50 states began receiving vaccine doses to help vaccinate the population from the novel virus.

There is no charge to receive the vaccine. Appointments are being determined based on the amount of vaccines received at each location, but cancellations and overfilled vials may lead to a surplus that needs to be distributed.

Earlier this month, Karen S. Lynch, President and Chief Executive Officer, CVS Health expressed excitement over the vaccine rollout, which will be limited to 11 states with about 250,000 doses.

“Our presence in communities across the country makes us an ideal partner for administering vaccines in a safe, convenient, and familiar manner. This is particularly true for underserved communities, which have been a focus for us throughout the pandemic,” she explained.

Appointments can be made via or through the CVS Pharmacy app, and those without online access can contact customer service: 1-800-746-7287.

As of now, only Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, both two-dose vaccines, have received emergency use authorization from the FDA.

Find out if you're eligible for the vaccine now.

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