Local pharmacies to offer the vaccine

Announcement of Florida’s participation in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Photo courtesy Governor Ron DeSantis’ Twitter

As of Saturday,  Florida is now offering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at local pharmacy locations through a retail partnership with Walmart, Publix and Winn-Dixie stores. In accordance with the previous Executive Order 20-315, these locations will offer the vaccine only to healthcare workers and individuals 65 years and older. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the initiative to vaccinate more citizens through the new federal program under the Biden administration. 

“Florida is proud to partner with Walmart and other retailers, including Publix, to expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, we look forward to reaching more Floridians and ensuring that all eligible residents who want a vaccine are able to receive one. We will continue to utilize strategic partnerships and identify innovative ways to get more shots in arms and put Florida’s seniors first,” DeSantis said at a news conference. 

Through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, Florida is expected to receive over 65,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The site locations were strategically chosen to ensure maximum reach to communities for distribution. More than 500 Publix locations will offer the vaccine in addition to the 119 Walmart stores and 43 Winn-Dixie locations. 

Retail pharmacies throughout Tallahassee have already begun scheduling vaccine appointments, including the Lake Ella Publix. A Publix pharmacy manager who asked that her name not be used said there might be an influx of appointments. She added that she’s glad the program is allocated in a direct distribution through appointment only. 

“As we receive the doses through the state Health Department via the CDC, we are here to provide the vaccine diligently to the community. We hope these efforts will allow the vaccine to be distributed out efficiently,” she said. 

All locations selected for Federal Retail Pharmacy Program will have doses provided by the federal government. As locations are only to be allocated certain dosage amounts, pharmacy locations were determined by prioritized reach in communities. Publix Pharmacy Manager Zack Knowles at the Ocala Road store location says their main goal is to prioritize the appointments and dose.s 

“Since we’re only given a certain number of doses, it’s important that we make sure every dose is administered thoroughly with each appointment scheduled. If someone cancels, we want to follow up or fill the appointment for the day. The goal is to vaccinate as many people as we have in relation to vaccine doses,” Knowles said.  

 The new vaccine sites are part of ongoing efforts to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in order to suppress the burden on local health facilities and hospitals.

 According to the CDC, “While the program will ultimately expand, it is important to know that early on, when vaccine supply is still limited, many pharmacies may not have the vaccine or may have very limited supply. As vaccine availability increases over time, the program will expand to ultimately include all 40,000 plus pharmacies.”