White House announces some COVID-19 vaccines will be sent directly to pharmacies

The White House has been rolling out a flurry of steps to try to speed the vaccination process in the early days, and we got another on Tuesday.

The administration announced that it will begin providing COVID-19 vaccines directly to pharmacies around the country in an effort to expand access.

The vaccines will be available in 6,500 pharmacies to start with, said Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. Supplies will be limited at first, with 1 million vaccine doses per week given to pharmacies starting Feb. 11.

In addition, the administration is increasing by 5 percent the vaccine doses given to states each week, to 10.5 million per week. That is on top of a 16 percent increase announced last week.

Caveats: Still, Zients was careful to temper expectations that far from everyone will be able to walk into a CVS for a vaccine in the near future.

“This will be limited when it begins next week,” he said. Some pharmacies “may have very limited supply,” he added.

Flashback: It’s a policy similar to one announced by the Trump administration in November, before any vaccines were available. HHS partnered with several independent and chain pharmacies including Albertsons, Rite Aid, Kroger, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Publix to administer COVID vaccines.