Retailers Prep to Deliver the Coronavirus VaccineDecember 17, 2020 - by Taylor Getler
Retailers have an opportunity to build a lot of brand equity by making the COVID-19 vaccine accessible to millions of consumers around the country. Government agencies have recognized the role that retailers already play in conveniently delivering essential products to American shoppers, and they are partnering with major players in retail healthcare to make sure that the vaccine is widely available as soon as possible.
CVS and Walgreen Spearhead the Effort
As leaders in retail pharmacy services, CVS and Walgreens have been chosen as partners for the initial rollout of the vaccine and other related COVID-19 treatments. In a December 2nd press release, CVS announced that they had been selected by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services as part of a pilot program to administer newly developed COVID-19 therapy to patients in long-term care facilities. According to the press release, CVS has already administered over eight million COVID-19 tests and has recently created ten thousand new vaccine-related jobs.
Walgreens is looking to fill as many as twenty-five thousand new roles to help support the vaccine rollout. Walgreens is already vaccinating eligible customers that belong to one of the categories that were chosen to be part of the initial vaccine rollout, including healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. According to Dr. Kevin Ban, Chief Medical Officer of Walgreens, a successful wide vaccine rollout will mean that everyday consumers should be able to walk into a store and get a COVID-19 vaccine “just like a seasonal flu-shot” by early April. Moody’s, a global financial analytics firm, reported that CVS and Walgreens could each receive as much as $2 billion from Medicare payments alone.
Walmart Sees Opportunities in Vaccine Distribution
Walmart and Sam’s Club locations have had in-store pharmacies for years, but part of Walmart’s future growth strategy is to expand their health service offerings. In 2019, the company tested a “Walmart Health Center” concept in Georgia, which includes primary care services, lab testing X-Rays and EKGs, counseling, dental, optical, hearing, and community health services at low prices.
Just last week, Walmart’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tom Van Gilder announced that the company was entering agreements with states to support the vaccine rollout. Since 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart location, the retailer could be an important player in getting the vaccine out quickly to millions of Americans. The pandemic is one of the most significant health events in American history, and if Walmart can help coordinate an effective response, it would be a great way to get consumers thinking about the company as a bigger part of their healthcare routine.
Retail healthcare is a very competitive industry that stands to make a huge amount of money in the coming years. Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and other players can really buy themselves a lot of brand equity by making the vaccine rollout process smooth and accessible for customers. Not to mention the fact that if these retailers become destinations for vaccines and other COVID-19 treatment services, it could also seriously drive in-store sales and give these companies the opportunity to expand into new categories to serve customers.