As America faces challenges in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, a number of the country’s biggest retailers are finding ways to help administer mass inoculations.
Since distribution of the vaccine began on Dec. 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 43 million doses have been provided in the United States — or just under 10% of the U.S. population. (The country is currently administering around 1.5 million shots a day.) While some nationwide chains are preparing their pharmacies to receive doses, other retailers are educating their workers in order to prepare them to receive the vaccine once they become eligible.
Here, the growing list of retail companies that are getting involved in COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
In mid-January, Dollar General became the first major nationwide chain to announce that it would compensate employees for getting vaccinated. The Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based company announced that it would offer “frontline” hourly workers with a one-time payment equivalent to four hours of their regular pay following their inoculation. It added that it would provide salaried team members with “additional store labor hours” to accommodate their time away from the store. (It was also working to make similar accommodations for its distribution and transportation teams.)
“We want to be on the forefront of facilitating our employees’ ability to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they so choose — and we encourage all of our team to receive the vaccine when it’s available to them,” the retailer said in a statement. “We do not want our employees to have to choose between receiving a vaccine or coming to work.”
Target is providing up to four hours of pay — or two hours for each vaccine dose — to hourly workers. It has also partnered with Lyft to provide free rides of up to $15 each way to get employees to and from their appointments. What’s more, the big-box chain is working with longstanding pharmacy partner CVS to offer inoculation to both employees and customers at its stores once those vaccines are allocated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Taking care of our team has been at the heart of every decision we’ve made since the coronavirus started, and this point in the pandemic is no different,” chief human resources officer Melissa Kremer said in a statement. “As more vaccines become available, especially for frontline and essential workers, we’ll help our team members across the country get the information and access they need. As we have for the past year, we’ll continue to invest in our team’s pay and benefits so they can take care of themselves, each other and our guests.”
As soon as Feb. 12, more than 1,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies across 22 states will receive vaccine allocations through the U.S. Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company, which will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines this week, announced that it has placed an emphasis on locations that reach customers in underserved communities with limited access to health care. In addition to those states, the sister retailers are already involved in vaccination efforts in 11 states, the country’s capital of Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. (See a full list of the states served here.)
“Ninety percent of the country lives within 10 miles of a Walmart. We’re at the heart of many rural and underserved communities, and we are committed to providing access to vaccines as groups become eligible,” EVP of health and wellness Dr. Cheryl Pegus said in a statement. “Vaccinations to achieve widespread immunity are important for reopening across the country. We’re proud to work together with the federal government, states, communities, customers and associates to reach that goal.”