Walmart stores in Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina and Texas will offer COVID-19 vaccinations starting next week, the retailer said Friday.
The vaccines will be administered at Walmart pharmacies to groups that state health officials have deemed most in need of inoculation. In Texas, for example, only health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, people 65 and older, or people 16 and older with chronic illnesses such as sickle cell anemia, can get the shot for now. In New Jersey, those eligible for a vaccine include health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, people 65 and older, first responders, and people 16 and older with chronic illnesses.
Vaccinations will also be available at Walmart locations in Chicago and Puerto Rico.
Walmart has already been administering vaccines in stores in its home state of Arkansas as well as New Mexico, a Walmart spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch. During the expansion, the retailer will offer vaccines seven days a week, an executive said in a company blog post.
“At full capacity, we expect we will be able to deliver 10 to 13 million doses per month when supply and allocations allow,” Walmart’s executive vice president for health and wellness Dr. Cheryl Pegus said.
Walmart has more than 5,000 locations.
“With 150 million people passing through our doors each week, we’re in a unique position to reach people where they already shop,” she said in the post, adding that the company also hopes to host vaccination events at churches, stadiums and youth centers.
Walmart joins CVS, Kroger, Rite Aid and Walgreens, among retailers offering vaccinations.
Walmart’s move comes as many states lag in vaccinating residents and President Joe Biden looks to accelerate the rollout. The push to speed things up is inviting major private-sector companies to step in, with Amazon, Costco, Microsoft and Starbucks all offering their help to step up the pace of vaccinations.
Last week, Mr. Biden said he plans to supercharge vaccination distribution by tapping Federal Emergency Management Agency staff and training an additional 100,000 workers to administer the shots. He has pledged to vaccinate 100 million more Americans in the first 100 days of his presidency.
In other measures to ramp up the fight against COVID-19, some states have activated their local National Guard troops to help distribute vaccines.