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With help from retail pharmacies, state expanding access to COVID-19 vaccinations

By Richard Rourk

Tennessee will see expanding access to COVID-19 vaccination with the launch of a new federal retail pharmacy program. The first phase of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination will launch in Tennessee Feb. 12, with select pharmacies offering vaccinations in accordance with the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.

These vaccinations will be provided at no cost to patients and will be available by appointment only. “We continue to advocate for Tennesseans by maximizing every dose of COVID-19 vaccine made available for people in our state. We are eager to collaborate with our federal partners to expand access to this vital resource for Tennesseans in the communities where they live and work,” announced Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey.

In addition to the almost 400 vaccination sites currently offered by county health departments, hospitals, federally-qualified and faith-based health centers and community pharmacies, Tennesseans eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination per Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan will have access to vaccinations at additional pharmacies across the state through this new program. The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination is a public-private partnership with national pharmacy partners and networks of independent pharmacies.

As of Feb. 11, TDH has been notified of 121 Walmart pharmacy locations across Tennessee that will offer COVID-19 vaccination through this program. These pharmacies will follow the vaccination plan phasing of the counties in which they are located. For details on participating locations and to schedule an appointment online, visit walmart.com/covidvaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worked with states to select initial pharmacy partners based on several factors including their ability to reach some of the populations most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19. A total of one million total doses of Moderna vaccine are being provided for the first week of the program nationwide, and additional doses will be allocated to the program weekly, based on the available supply of COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine allocations provided for this program are in addition to the weekly allocation going to states and may initially be limited in quantity. More information is available at the CDC website.

Tennesseans can learn the current phase of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan by visiting https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/eligibility/.

The Tennessee Health Department has also set up a questionnaire that can tell unvaccinated people when they can expect their vaccine to be available.
To find out when to expect to receive a vaccine, fill out an online form at https://vaccinate.tn.gov/.

As of Monday, Feb. 15, 10,020,841 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Tennessee. In Unicoi County, 4,499 vaccines have been administered.

As of Monday, Feb. 15, 15.93 percent of the population in Unicoi County had received their first dose and 9.17 percent of the population had received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.