Federal government partners with pharmacies for coronavirus vaccine distribution

The federal government has reached agreements with pharmacies across the country to distribute a coronavirus vaccine for free when one becomes available.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the program will reach 60 percent of the pharmacies in every state and U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, including major chains and independent pharmacies to reach traditionally underserved areas.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said the vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, so the new agreement is aimed at making sure everyone will have access to a COVID-19 vaccine.

The partnership includes chain stores including CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens and pharmacies in supermarkets and big box stores such as Kroger, Publix and Costco.

There is no COVID-19 vaccine yet, but Pfizer gave the public some cause for optimism this week when it announced interim clinical trial results that showed its vaccine was more than 90 percent effective. The company could send results to the Food and Drug Administration for authorization by the beginning of next month.