Minnesota pharmacies prepare for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

A health care worker prepares to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. (FOX 9)

Pharmacies are now the latest place where Minnesota residents can get a COVID-19 vaccine.

National drug store chains, including Walmart, CVS Pharmacy, and Walgreens, are just some of the major retailers getting the supplies as a part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.   

It’s the latest effort from both the federal and state government to get the vaccine out to more Americans.  

"As of Tuesday night, we scheduled all 8,000 of our appointments for the next couple of days here," said Jeremy Faulks, the director of specialty pharmacy at Thrifty White Pharmacy.  

Walmart and Thrifty White will receive more than 16,000 doses across the state of Minnesota.  

"This is great news for us. As a pharmacy, we’ve been doing vaccinations for a long time so being a part of this and being to expand that access is a really big deal for us," said Faulks. "We tend to be located in the rural parts of the state in towns where there are between a few thousand up to 80,000 people. For many towns, we are the only health access point for that town."  

Local pharmacies are also joining in to help.  

"This is two-fold. We have a pilot program with 19 pharmacies at the independent level administering vaccines at their local communities," said Sarah Derr, the executive director for the Minnesota Pharmacists Association. "Then there’s the federal program that you see at large retailers such as Walgreens, Walmart, and Thrifty White. These are two separate programs." 

Derr adds the best place to check for available appointments is online, which is what Walmart suggests as well.  

"If you want to get on to a waiting list, go on to the pharmacy’s website and see, first, if they offer COVID-19 on their website," said Derr. "If so, then the pharmacy will typically have a COVID-19 appointment system available."  

Governor Walz is reallocating 8,000 doses to Walgreens to vaccinate adults 65 and older across the state. His administration has not detailed when they will start.