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: 1367126

Reported Deaths: 24801
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook54734510147
DuPage908351288
Will75828993
Lake67459991
Kane58579778
Winnebago33393477
Madison30589520
McHenry28705288
St. Clair27915514
Peoria23202317
Champaign20710145
Sangamon18831234
McLean18236181
Tazewell16999291
Rock Island15041318
Kankakee14232210
Kendall1310594
LaSalle12589244
Macon10784200
DeKalb9912119
Vermilion9702132
Adams8476123
Williamson7446130
Whiteside7166172
Boone672074
Ogle612081
Grundy590176
Clinton576590
Coles569196
Knox5573150
Jackson503364
Henry501167
Livingston483385
Stephenson477183
Woodford476277
Effingham472972
Macoupin471583
Marion4472115
Franklin446375
Monroe435793
Jefferson4304120
Lee417453
Randolph413484
Fulton395557
Morgan390282
Logan389159
Montgomery373474
Bureau372782
Christian368673
Perry317960
Fayette317855
Iroquois302966
McDonough286747
Jersey269350
Douglas259035
Saline256654
Lawrence240625
Shelby229937
Union226240
Crawford212326
Bond205524
Cass199525
Jo Daviess181924
Clark180633
Warren180246
Pike179352
Ford179147
Wayne178053
Hancock176231
Carroll175636
Richland175240
Edgar170840
White169826
Washington164425
Moultrie161128
De Witt151725
Mason151645
Piatt150014
Clay148143
Mercer147533
Johnson144615
Greene144033
Massac134640
Wabash134612
Cumberland129019
Menard123712
Jasper115118
Marshall107418
Hamilton83615
Schuyler7607
Brown7106
Pulaski6867
Stark63824
Edwards56912
Henderson52414
Calhoun5182
Putnam4833
Scott4791
Alexander46811
Gallatin4604
Hardin38612
Pope3224
Out of IL20
Unassigned02356

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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

Cases: 735999

Reported Deaths: 13486
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1007151752
Lake54249977
Allen40946680
St. Joseph36335553
Hamilton35829408
Elkhart28844443
Tippecanoe22475219
Vanderburgh22367397
Porter18946311
Johnson18067381
Hendricks17317315
Clark13036192
Madison12762339
Vigo12501249
LaPorte12086215
Monroe11957172
Delaware10755187
Howard10001218
Kosciusko9466117
Hancock8373142
Bartholomew8098156
Warrick7799155
Floyd7690178
Grant7098174
Wayne7072199
Boone6745101
Morgan6611140
Dubois6166117
Marshall6111112
Cass5876105
Dearborn583178
Henry5785105
Noble565984
Jackson503773
Shelby494396
Lawrence4602120
Gibson437192
Harrison436672
DeKalb430585
Clinton428453
Montgomery425889
Whitley398739
Huntington394480
Steuben391057
Miami383968
Knox372890
Jasper372649
Putnam363760
Wabash355380
Adams342755
Ripley340770
Jefferson331881
White317754
Daviess298399
Wells292081
Decatur285992
Fayette282162
Greene280585
Posey272034
LaGrange268970
Scott267554
Clay261347
Washington242132
Randolph242081
Spencer232931
Jennings230949
Starke219354
Fountain213946
Sullivan212242
Owen203356
Jay197830
Fulton196040
Carroll190420
Orange184754
Perry184637
Rush174025
Vermillion170044
Franklin168535
Tipton163445
Parke146716
Pike135634
Blackford135132
Pulaski117445
Newton108934
Brown102641
Crawford101415
Benton99014
Martin89515
Warren82615
Switzerland7948
Union71410
Ohio57111
Unassigned0417