Pharmacies start administering their first 1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from federal government

More retail pharmacies around the country began administering Covid-19 vaccines by appointment on Friday under a new federal program that is shipping doses d...

Posted: Feb 12, 2021 11:10 AM
Updated: Feb 13, 2021 3:15 AM

More retail pharmacies around the country began administering Covid-19 vaccines by appointment on Friday under a new federal program that is shipping doses directly to them.

One million doses have been allocated to 6,500 pharmacies -- including some CVS, Walmart, Walgreens and Rite Aid locations -- in the first phase of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, and the stores started giving these shots Friday.

This comes on a day when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for reopening schools safely. The CDC is encouraging states to prioritize teachers for vaccination but does not make inoculation one of its key recommendations.

And a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation says that nearly a third of Americans -- 31% -- say they plan to 'wait and see' how the vaccines work for others before deciding to get vaccinated themselves.

As for vaccines in pharmacies: Many stores still do not have the vaccine in this first phase of the new federal program. Walgreens will now have it in certain stores in 15 states; Rite Aid has it in six states; and Walmart and Sam's Clubs have it in 22 states. The coverage area is expected to expand as supplies increase.

The doses sent directly to pharmacies are separate from the millions per week that the federal government already has been distributing to states -- a few of which already were providing doses to a small number of pharmacies.

A person's eligibility still varies by state. All states began with priority populations -- often health care workers and people in long-term care facilities -- followed by seniors and/or essential workers, or people with certain health conditions.

More and more states are expanding eligibility to people with pre-existing or underlying conditions. Currently, that's the case in 11 states -- Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Texas -- according to a CNN analysis of public health department websites.

In New York, people with comorbidities and underlying conditions can sign up for appointments starting Sunday, with vaccinations beginning Monday. California on Friday announced it will expand eligibility to millions of people who have 'serious underlying health conditions' or are 'at high risk with developmental and other disabilities' beginning March 15.

Vaccinations on the rise

Though states have generally complained supply is not meeting demand, the number of vaccinations per day has been rising.

The US has averaged nearly 1.6 million doses administered per day over the past week, higher than the daily average of about 1.3 million last week, according to a CNN analysis of data published Thursday by the CDC.

By April, access could start to expand to the general public, and most Americans could be inoculated by the middle or end of summer, Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC's 'Today' show this week. Fauci is President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The upswing in vaccinations comes amid concerns about the spread of more-transmissible coronavirus variants. One key question is whether the vaccines will work on these mutated strains.

So far, at least 997 cases of more-transmissible Covid-19 variants, first detected in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, have been reported in the US, according to CDC data.

Dr. Barney Graham, deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at National Institutes of Health, told Biden on Thursday that the antibodies that vaccines make against the virus can still attack the known variants.

'Antibodies have a lot of places to bind. It may eventually lose efficacy, but I think we are OK for now until additional mutations are accumulated,' Graham said.

CDC recommends 5 key strategies to reopen schools

The CDC's newly released guidelines for reopening schools includes 'five key mitigation strategies' for returning to in-person school safely.

Those five key strategies are: the universal and correct wearing of masks; physical distancing; washing hands; cleaning facilities and improving ventilation; and conducting contact tracing, isolation, and quarantining.

Biden has pledged to reopen most US K-12 schools within his first 100 days in office, though some teachers' unions have expressed concerns about reopening while many educators have yet to be vaccinated.

And according to a CNN analysis of federal data, about 99% of US children live in what's considered a 'red' zone with high levels of virus transmission under new CDC guidance.

Almost 73 million children -- about 99% of the US population under the age of 18 -- live in county where there were at least 100 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people, or a test positivity rate of at least 10%, during the past seven days, according to the CNN analysis.

The new CDC guidelines recommend virtual learning for middle and high schools and hybrid learning or reduced attendance for elementary schools in these high transmission zones.

The CDC's guidance Friday says vaccination and testing 'provide additional layers of Covid-19 prevention in schools,' but it doesn't describe them as key strategies.

'Our operational strategy specifically includes a component on vaccinations for teachers and school staff as an additional layer of protection,' said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky at a news briefing on Friday.

She said the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that frontline essential workers -- a group that includes educators -- be prioritized for Covid-19 vaccination.

'As such, we strongly encourage states to prioritize teachers and other school staff to get vaccinated,' Walensky said. 'If we want our children to receive in-person instruction, we must ensure that teachers and school staff are healthy and protected from getting Covid-19 in places outside of schools where they might be at higher risk.'

States loosen their coronavirus restrictions

The rates of new Covid-19 cases and deaths, and the numbers of Covid-19 patients in hospitals, are dropping after surges around the holidays. As they do, some states are dropping social restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus.

Nevada said it will aim to end state-mandated business capacity restrictions by May 1 in phases, though local governments can still issue their own restrictions.

Starting Monday, Nevada state rules will allow most businesses and houses of worship to have up to 100 people, or 35% of normal capacity. If coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to decrease, capacity would go up to 50% on March 15.

Indoor gathering limitations in Wyoming will be increased to 25% of capacity or 500 people Monday, and limits on sporting events, artistic performances, restaurants and gyms will be eased, according to Gov. Mark Gordon.

Though daily Covid-19 numbers have recently improved, health experts have warned that precautions are still important to keep the spread of more transmissible variants limited.

The CDC has warned that the variant first identified in the UK could become dominant in the US, and worsen the spread of the virus.

'Many of us think ... as we get into the middle of March, April and May, that's the time when we're really going to see this big upswing in the number of new cases and, possibly, deaths' because of that variant, Dr. Peter Hotez told CNN's 'New Day' on Friday.

'So, how do we get the population vaccinated as quickly as possible?' said Hotez, the co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital. '... I'm really feeling good about the country over the summer, but I'm worried about the spring.'

New report says nearly a third of US adults are undecided about the vaccine

The 31% of Americans who say they plan to 'wait and see' how the vaccines work for others represent 'a critical group for efforts aimed at boosting vaccinations,' according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's (KFF) Vaccine Monitor report.

Many of those who said they wanted to wait said that a close friend or family member getting vaccinated would be most likely to sway their decision, according to the KFF report.

About half of those in the 'wait and see' group are White, 16% are Black and 19% are Hispanic. A majority say they are worried that they or a family member will get sick from coronavirus.

Over half of the 'wait and see group' view getting vaccinated as a personal choice and just 40% see vaccination as a responsibility to protect others.

The 'wait and see group' are also politically diverse, with 42% identifying as Democrats or leaning Democratic while 36% identify as Republicans or leaning Republican.

The pace of vaccinations should ramp up in March and April, allowing a broader segment of the population to become eligible, Fauci said.

'I would imagine by the time we get to April, that will be what I would call for, you know, for better wording, open season,' Fauci told NBC on Thursday. 'Namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.'

Makers of the country's currently authorized two-dose vaccines -- Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna -- have begun trials for children, starting with older age groups. By September, vaccines could be authorized for young children, Fauci told ProPublica on Thursday.

Johnson & Johnson would add to the country's supply if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes its one-dose vaccine. The company has said it could provide 20 million to 30 million doses by the end of April if the authorization comes, with more possible after that.

Biden said Thursday the US is on track to have vaccine supply for 300 million Americans 'by the end of July.'

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1185367

Reported Deaths: 22710
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4739449351
DuPage766591194
Will64954892
Lake59408921
Kane50666716
Winnebago28319438
Madison27949454
St. Clair25391466
McHenry24290265
Champaign18079125
Peoria16880262
Sangamon16121217
McLean14581157
Tazewell13509240
Rock Island13056286
Kankakee12482189
Kendall1103785
LaSalle10786219
Macon9442185
Vermilion8557116
DeKalb8260112
Adams8003114
Williamson6794120
Whiteside5926147
Boone592171
Clinton557189
Coles519091
Grundy511363
Knox5017131
Ogle501473
Jackson460160
Effingham449269
Macoupin434779
Henry432656
Marion4262111
Livingston419876
Franklin414366
Stephenson409275
Monroe406383
Jefferson3976115
Randolph396078
Woodford367260
Morgan358676
Montgomery349268
Lee335143
Logan330753
Bureau330473
Christian330167
Fayette306452
Perry304657
Fulton285044
Iroquois277060
Jersey249346
Douglas244132
McDonough232140
Saline229747
Lawrence229624
Union218536
Shelby213734
Crawford200723
Bond190724
Cass188722
Pike168850
Clark168529
Wayne167148
Hancock167029
Warren166444
Richland163538
White160625
Jo Daviess160522
Ford158245
Washington158223
Carroll157634
Edgar154337
Moultrie149024
Clay142941
Greene137932
Johnson134712
Piatt132214
Wabash130012
Mason128241
Mercer128033
De Witt127822
Massac127133
Cumberland119218
Jasper110917
Menard10358
Marshall83815
Hamilton78815
Schuyler6775
Pulaski6705
Brown6636
Stark54022
Edwards52310
Henderson49814
Calhoun4782
Scott4491
Alexander4478
Gallatin4374
Putnam4153
Hardin34412
Pope2823
Out of IL40
Unassigned02216

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 660942

Reported Deaths: 12556
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion905601638
Lake48352874
Allen35762635
Hamilton32026396
St. Joseph29865511
Elkhart25350414
Vanderburgh21225377
Tippecanoe19977200
Johnson16319356
Porter15938269
Hendricks15801300
Clark11928180
Madison11730316
Vigo11578229
Monroe10312161
Delaware9830179
LaPorte9755196
Howard9047196
Kosciusko8549109
Bartholomew7440147
Warrick7403150
Hancock7394130
Floyd7189169
Wayne6630191
Grant6422157
Morgan6075125
Boone607288
Dubois5895111
Dearborn546866
Cass543399
Henry541793
Marshall5417104
Noble508578
Jackson464366
Shelby460190
Lawrence4179111
Gibson400881
Harrison398763
Clinton395053
Montgomery386283
DeKalb384678
Miami356763
Knox356485
Whitley348936
Huntington342376
Steuben337855
Wabash330876
Putnam329459
Ripley326861
Adams322549
Jasper315443
White297252
Jefferson294473
Daviess285396
Fayette271456
Decatur270488
Greene261280
Posey260531
Wells257674
Scott249950
Clay240844
LaGrange240770
Randolph225576
Spencer217030
Jennings214744
Washington210427
Sullivan203139
Fountain201142
Starke187951
Owen181953
Fulton178237
Jay177628
Carroll176418
Perry173235
Orange171150
Rush164322
Vermillion160242
Franklin159335
Tipton146141
Parke138815
Pike127432
Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
Brown94939
Benton91813
Crawford90313
Martin80014
Warren75513
Switzerland7537
Union67110
Ohio53211
Unassigned0431