Latest on local pharmacy plans to administer COVID-19 vaccine; plus Rite Aid expands testing

(WAVY) — President Joe Biden plans to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations – with the goal of 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office – and pharmacies will play a role in making this happen. Biden is ordering the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to begin a program to make vaccines available through local pharmacies starting next month.

Major pharmacies CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens have all announced they will be offering the COVID-19 vaccine to those who qualify to receive it, as soon as they have it available for administering.

Currently in Virginia, groups in 1a and 1b are eligible to get vaccinated.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has created a statewide vaccine questionnaire where you can enter your information to find out which phase you fall under. When your vaccine phase is available, VDH will contact you to verify your eligibility and coordinate when you can receive your shot.

Not sure which phase your local health district falls under? There’s a map for that.

Dr. Danny Avula, the head of Virginia’s vaccination efforts, reported over the weekend that of the doses administered so far, about a quarter of them went to Walgreens and CVS to vaccinate at nursing homes.

Governor Ralph Northam has a briefing scheduled for Thursday afternoon (Jan. 21) to discuss vaccine distribution. 10 On Your Side plans to cover it live on WAVY.com.

Here’s where the COVID-19 vaccine availability at pharmacies stands now:

CVS

CVS has been doling out doses to nursing facilities and other long term care facilities.

Once availability is expanded in the Hampton Roads region, customers will be able to make an appointment using the CVS app and will be prompted to make an appointment for their second dose at the same time. You can also visit this page to check eligibility. The company said it expects the vaccine to be available to the general public sometime in March or April.

The vaccine will be available at no cost through your insurance or a government program for the uninsured.

RITE AID

Rite Aid, through a partnership with the CDC, says it is “staged and ready” to make the COVID-19 vaccine available at all store locations as soon as it is available for pharmacy distribution.

“The COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed in 3 phases. We are currently in Phase 1.  Retail pharmacies will likely have access to COVID-19 vaccine during Phase 2 and Phase 3,” it states on their website.

Once the vaccine is available, it will be through appointment only.

Rite Aid is seeking to fill over 2,000 new pharmacy roles to administer COVID-19 vaccines under Phase 2 of the CDC’s roll-out plan. Go to www.careers.riteaid.com for more information.

Meanwhile, Rite Aid announced on Jan. 21 that it is expanding its COVID-19 testing to children ages four and older. Previously testing was only available for ages 13 and older. Rite Aid is also opening new self-swab locations in parts of Virginia Friday. There are several Hampton Roads stores on that list. Click here for the full list of testing sites and to schedule an appointment.

WALGREENS

Walgreens has been providing the COVID-19 vaccine to skilled nursing facilities and says it expects to complete the administration of the first doses by Monday, Jan. 25.

“Since receiving our first allotments of vaccines in late December, Walgreens has remained on track in vaccinating our most vulnerable populations, and we are steadfast in our commitment to accelerating access to COVID-19 vaccines as we receive additional guidance from state governments and jurisdictions,” said John Standley, president, Walgreens. “Walgreens takes immense pride in being a part of protecting our communities from COVID-19 and helping the country take this first step toward emerging from this pandemic.”

Walgreens also has a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and says it will continue to work with states as they finalize their Phase 1b and 1c plans to administer COVID-19 vaccines to additional vulnerable populations.

Those who are eligible to receive the vaccine can schedule vaccination appointments through the Walgreens app or online at this link.

VDH announced last week that it has expanded its partnership with Walgreens to provide the rapid antigen testing at select locations. This expands the number of locations with drive-thru no cost COVID-19 testing from four to 15 stores.

The company released this video about COVID-19 health disparities.

At this time the COVID-19 vaccine is only approved for those 16 years of age and older. Children under the age of 16 will be offered vaccines only after the vaccine is tested and authorized by FDA for use in children.