Pharmacies start administering their first 1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from federal government

More retail pharmacies around the country began administering Covid-19 vaccines by appointment on Friday under a new federal program that is shipping doses d...

Posted: Feb 12, 2021 10:10 AM
Updated: Feb 13, 2021 2:15 AM

More retail pharmacies around the country began administering Covid-19 vaccines by appointment on Friday under a new federal program that is shipping doses directly to them.

One million doses have been allocated to 6,500 pharmacies -- including some CVS, Walmart, Walgreens and Rite Aid locations -- in the first phase of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, and the stores started giving these shots Friday.

This comes on a day when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for reopening schools safely. The CDC is encouraging states to prioritize teachers for vaccination but does not make inoculation one of its key recommendations.

And a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation says that nearly a third of Americans -- 31% -- say they plan to 'wait and see' how the vaccines work for others before deciding to get vaccinated themselves.

As for vaccines in pharmacies: Many stores still do not have the vaccine in this first phase of the new federal program. Walgreens will now have it in certain stores in 15 states; Rite Aid has it in six states; and Walmart and Sam's Clubs have it in 22 states. The coverage area is expected to expand as supplies increase.

The doses sent directly to pharmacies are separate from the millions per week that the federal government already has been distributing to states -- a few of which already were providing doses to a small number of pharmacies.

A person's eligibility still varies by state. All states began with priority populations -- often health care workers and people in long-term care facilities -- followed by seniors and/or essential workers, or people with certain health conditions.

More and more states are expanding eligibility to people with pre-existing or underlying conditions. Currently, that's the case in 11 states -- Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Texas -- according to a CNN analysis of public health department websites.

In New York, people with comorbidities and underlying conditions can sign up for appointments starting Sunday, with vaccinations beginning Monday. California on Friday announced it will expand eligibility to millions of people who have 'serious underlying health conditions' or are 'at high risk with developmental and other disabilities' beginning March 15.

Vaccinations on the rise

Though states have generally complained supply is not meeting demand, the number of vaccinations per day has been rising.

The US has averaged nearly 1.6 million doses administered per day over the past week, higher than the daily average of about 1.3 million last week, according to a CNN analysis of data published Thursday by the CDC.

By April, access could start to expand to the general public, and most Americans could be inoculated by the middle or end of summer, Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC's 'Today' show this week. Fauci is President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The upswing in vaccinations comes amid concerns about the spread of more-transmissible coronavirus variants. One key question is whether the vaccines will work on these mutated strains.

So far, at least 997 cases of more-transmissible Covid-19 variants, first detected in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, have been reported in the US, according to CDC data.

Dr. Barney Graham, deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at National Institutes of Health, told Biden on Thursday that the antibodies that vaccines make against the virus can still attack the known variants.

'Antibodies have a lot of places to bind. It may eventually lose efficacy, but I think we are OK for now until additional mutations are accumulated,' Graham said.

CDC recommends 5 key strategies to reopen schools

The CDC's newly released guidelines for reopening schools includes 'five key mitigation strategies' for returning to in-person school safely.

Those five key strategies are: the universal and correct wearing of masks; physical distancing; washing hands; cleaning facilities and improving ventilation; and conducting contact tracing, isolation, and quarantining.

Biden has pledged to reopen most US K-12 schools within his first 100 days in office, though some teachers' unions have expressed concerns about reopening while many educators have yet to be vaccinated.

And according to a CNN analysis of federal data, about 99% of US children live in what's considered a 'red' zone with high levels of virus transmission under new CDC guidance.

Almost 73 million children -- about 99% of the US population under the age of 18 -- live in county where there were at least 100 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people, or a test positivity rate of at least 10%, during the past seven days, according to the CNN analysis.

The new CDC guidelines recommend virtual learning for middle and high schools and hybrid learning or reduced attendance for elementary schools in these high transmission zones.

The CDC's guidance Friday says vaccination and testing 'provide additional layers of Covid-19 prevention in schools,' but it doesn't describe them as key strategies.

'Our operational strategy specifically includes a component on vaccinations for teachers and school staff as an additional layer of protection,' said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky at a news briefing on Friday.

She said the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that frontline essential workers -- a group that includes educators -- be prioritized for Covid-19 vaccination.

'As such, we strongly encourage states to prioritize teachers and other school staff to get vaccinated,' Walensky said. 'If we want our children to receive in-person instruction, we must ensure that teachers and school staff are healthy and protected from getting Covid-19 in places outside of schools where they might be at higher risk.'

States loosen their coronavirus restrictions

The rates of new Covid-19 cases and deaths, and the numbers of Covid-19 patients in hospitals, are dropping after surges around the holidays. As they do, some states are dropping social restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus.

Nevada said it will aim to end state-mandated business capacity restrictions by May 1 in phases, though local governments can still issue their own restrictions.

Starting Monday, Nevada state rules will allow most businesses and houses of worship to have up to 100 people, or 35% of normal capacity. If coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to decrease, capacity would go up to 50% on March 15.

Indoor gathering limitations in Wyoming will be increased to 25% of capacity or 500 people Monday, and limits on sporting events, artistic performances, restaurants and gyms will be eased, according to Gov. Mark Gordon.

Though daily Covid-19 numbers have recently improved, health experts have warned that precautions are still important to keep the spread of more transmissible variants limited.

The CDC has warned that the variant first identified in the UK could become dominant in the US, and worsen the spread of the virus.

'Many of us think ... as we get into the middle of March, April and May, that's the time when we're really going to see this big upswing in the number of new cases and, possibly, deaths' because of that variant, Dr. Peter Hotez told CNN's 'New Day' on Friday.

'So, how do we get the population vaccinated as quickly as possible?' said Hotez, the co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital. '... I'm really feeling good about the country over the summer, but I'm worried about the spring.'

New report says nearly a third of US adults are undecided about the vaccine

The 31% of Americans who say they plan to 'wait and see' how the vaccines work for others represent 'a critical group for efforts aimed at boosting vaccinations,' according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's (KFF) Vaccine Monitor report.

Many of those who said they wanted to wait said that a close friend or family member getting vaccinated would be most likely to sway their decision, according to the KFF report.

About half of those in the 'wait and see' group are White, 16% are Black and 19% are Hispanic. A majority say they are worried that they or a family member will get sick from coronavirus.

Over half of the 'wait and see group' view getting vaccinated as a personal choice and just 40% see vaccination as a responsibility to protect others.

The 'wait and see group' are also politically diverse, with 42% identifying as Democrats or leaning Democratic while 36% identify as Republicans or leaning Republican.

The pace of vaccinations should ramp up in March and April, allowing a broader segment of the population to become eligible, Fauci said.

'I would imagine by the time we get to April, that will be what I would call for, you know, for better wording, open season,' Fauci told NBC on Thursday. 'Namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.'

Makers of the country's currently authorized two-dose vaccines -- Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna -- have begun trials for children, starting with older age groups. By September, vaccines could be authorized for young children, Fauci told ProPublica on Thursday.

Johnson & Johnson would add to the country's supply if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes its one-dose vaccine. The company has said it could provide 20 million to 30 million doses by the end of April if the authorization comes, with more possible after that.

Biden said Thursday the US is on track to have vaccine supply for 300 million Americans 'by the end of July.'

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 770246

Reported Deaths: 8661
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1537491923
Ramsey63444980
Dakota57071526
Anoka54052520
Washington33690331
Stearns28419253
St. Louis23735361
Scott21652160
Wright21388171
Olmsted18144120
Sherburne15515115
Carver1366556
Clay1025399
Rice9985131
Blue Earth966659
Crow Wing9518109
Chisago837263
Kandiyohi835197
Otter Tail8061105
Benton7477111
Beltrami658079
Mower645541
Douglas629190
Goodhue619985
Itasca618885
Winona611854
McLeod595770
Steele585825
Isanti573074
Morrison557767
Becker534862
Polk512879
Freeborn487642
Nobles481652
Lyon456356
Carlton446866
Nicollet434454
Pine428532
Cass425745
Mille Lacs416967
Brown411547
Todd400036
Le Sueur386332
Meeker356854
Waseca327331
Martin326336
Wabasha29538
Hubbard292744
Dodge273510
Roseau265227
Fillmore243812
Redwood240443
Wadena238429
Houston231117
Renville228549
Faribault220630
Pennington217227
Sibley211612
Cottonwood197128
Kanabec192230
Chippewa190340
Aitkin184043
Watonwan171112
Pope16148
Yellow Medicine157220
Rock155319
Jackson147315
Koochiching138619
Clearwater136618
Murray135011
Swift134619
Marshall134520
Pipestone133427
Stevens124911
Lake109521
Wilkin102814
Lac qui Parle98524
Mahnomen90312
Norman8789
Big Stone7974
Grant7869
Lincoln7845
Kittson61122
Red Lake5899
Unassigned538124
Traverse5165
Lake of the Woods4764
Cook2460

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 474151

Reported Deaths: 6785
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk74657729
Linn29194394
Scott24733274
Black Hawk20335358
Woodbury19207244
Johnson17988100
Dubuque15834229
Pottawattamie14276200
Dallas14109108
Story1288551
Warren774296
Cerro Gordo6951110
Webster6950111
Clinton6929101
Des Moines667594
Marshall641885
Muscatine6352113
Wapello5936137
Jasper578279
Lee565689
Sioux565676
Marion508191
Buena Vista491746
Plymouth463487
Henry389847
Jones370861
Washington366856
Benton359257
Bremer357168
Boone350937
Carroll346353
Crawford339347
Mahaska322856
Dickinson301052
Clay279133
Buchanan279039
Jackson273546
Kossuth271873
Hardin270249
Tama264976
Fayette260649
Delaware258546
Cedar249526
Page249328
Wright243645
Hamilton233954
Winneshiek233338
Floyd221845
Harrison217777
Madison216925
Clayton214558
Poweshiek211741
Iowa208029
Butler206638
Cass201557
Jefferson201040
Mills199929
Allamakee194753
Cherokee193844
Lyon192941
Hancock187639
Winnebago186633
Calhoun186116
Appanoose180850
Shelby178439
Louisa171052
Grundy168537
Humboldt167727
Emmet167146
Franklin164628
Mitchell164043
Union162637
Chickasaw159318
Sac157924
Guthrie155434
Montgomery142342
Palo Alto142032
Clarke141328
Keokuk139635
Monroe134335
Howard128222
Ida118641
Greene116315
Davis115225
Lucas113724
Pocahontas111423
Monona108738
Worth10818
Adair105335
Osceola94017
Fremont86111
Van Buren84221
Decatur82612
Taylor79713
Wayne74824
Ringgold67727
Audubon66814
Adams5095
Unassigned380
Rochester
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