You Might Be Able To Get A COVID Vaccine At Your Local Grocery Store

Finally, 2020 is giving us some news we can all get behind. With NPR reporting that three different, possible COVID-19 vaccinations are showing promising results, your local grocery store and pharmacy may already be preparing for a mass-vaccination drive. As Brian Tanquilut, a healthcare stock analyst at Jeffries, explained to CNN, the US government has put agreements in place with retailers such as Albertsons, Costco, CVS, Publix, Rite Aid, Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart and Winn-Dixie "to make sure they can run vaccines through them." Earlier this week, WRCBtv announced that the grocery store chain, Food City, plans on offering up vaccines for free. As to exactly which branches of which grocery store will receive vaccines, "it's up to the government to figure out delivery because this is a highly allocated product," Tanquilut explained.

While CNN reports that May is the earliest month that COVID-19 vaccines will be available to the general public, grocery stores and pharmacies are busy getting ready for the onslaught. The Wall Street Journal talked to many grocery stores that are already training staff, creating online appointment scheduling services, and "rushing" to stock up on "freezers, thermometers, and other medical gear." Food City, for example, already has 30 medical-grade freezers, worth $500 a pop, along with the appropriate technology to ensure freezer temperatures are optimal.

Obstacles that supermarkets face to administer the COVID-19 vaccine

One outstanding issue that both grocery stores and pharmacies are grappling with is the temperature at which different vaccines must be stored. Both because of existing storage spaces and their location within communities, supermarkets and pharmacies may be uniquely situated to "help support a more rapid rollout of a national vaccination program," according to David Bishop, partner and analyst at retail and grocery consulting firm Brick Meets Click (via CNN). But some vaccines must be stored at "ultra-cold" temperatures, and for such vaccines, grocery stores will need to acquire special freezers. This is true of Pfizer's vaccine, which can only last in temperatures of 35.6 to 46.4 Fahrenheit for five days, while it can be stored at temperatures of -94 Fahrenheit for six months. To that end, Albertsons told the Wall Street Journal that is already coordinating with the government to build special "cold-storage capacity" for vaccines.  

Another hurdle to overcome is the potential lines to get the vaccinations. In addition to online appointment scheduling services, CNN reports that some pharmacies, such as CVS, are preparing drive-thru vaccination campaigns, available by appointment only. For its part, Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize, (which owns both Stop & Shop and Giant supermarkets) told the Wall Street Journal that it's ready to implement "socially distanced vaccination stations," and is prepared to remove certain products and displays to allow for such social-distancing to take place.