More vaccination shots will be given to Americans starting Friday with the start of a federal program that will deliver doses direct to drug stores and pharmacies in grocery stores.
The program will start small and distribute one million doses of vaccine to approximately 6,500 retail pharmacies. Over time, it will expand to include up to 40,000 drug and grocery stores.
While some states have started using a limited number of retail pharmacies to deliver doses in the past few weeks, delivering vaccines direct from the federal government to pharmacies marks a new chapter in the US vaccination campaign.
On Friday, Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid, among others, will begin delivering vaccines to eligible individuals based on government guidelines at retailers in limited locations across the country. Walgreens will offer vaccines in 22 states and Puerto Rico. Rite Aid will initially receive direct federal grants in five states plus Philadelphia and New York City. and CVS will offer vaccines in 18 states and Puerto Rico.
Those who are entitled to receive the doses can check the availability of the pharmacy websites, and many of the first appointment slots are already booked.
The federal program, which aims to not reduce the doses allocated to states, begins a day after President Biden said his government received enough doses of vaccine to vaccinate every American adult. (That message brought with it a plea for patience: Mr Biden said logistical hurdles would likely mean many Americans won't be vaccinated by the end of summer.)
On Thursday, Mr Biden complained about the “gigantic” logistical challenge facing his administration. "It's one thing to have the vaccine, it's another thing to have vaccines," he said during an appearance at the National Institutes of Health.
He also openly expressed frustration with the previous administration.
"While scientists have done their job discovering vaccines in record time, my predecessor – I will be very frank about this – did not do his job to prepare for the massive challenge of vaccinating hundreds of millions," said Biden.
Health officials in the Trump administration have pushed these proposals back, referring to hundreds of briefings that Department of Health and Human Services officials have offered to the incoming health team, including vaccine assignment and distribution.
A contract announced Thursday for an additional 200 million doses of vaccine helps fulfill a promise Mr Biden made in January to increase supply to cover a larger segment of the population. He said at the time that the government had signed a contract with two manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna, as part of its larger promise that about 300 million Americans could get a dose of vaccine by late summer or early fall.
On Thursday, he said his government had "now bought enough vaccine to vaccinate all Americans".