CVS, Walgreens not part of federal vaccine program in Florida

If you thought you would be able to walk down the street to your neighborhood CVS or Walgreens to get a COVID-19 shot, think again. FOX 35 News has learned that Florida locations are presently not part of a new federal vaccine program.

The federal government is getting more private pharmacies in on vaccinating the public, with shipments heading out as early as next week.  However, in Florida, only three partners have been selected: Publix, Walmart, and Winn-Dixie. CVS and Walgreens have been left out.

A CVS spokesperson told FOX 35 News, "The federal pharmacy program, which consists of 19 national and regional pharmacy chains, will roll out across the country next week in a limited fashion based on the current supply of vaccine, with 2 to 3 pharmacy partners going live in each state.

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CVS said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) worked with each state to determine which pharmacy partners would participate. At this time, CVS Pharmacy has not been activated in Florida.

"As more vaccine supply becomes available, we expect our pharmacies to be activated in more states. Once the program is fully operational, vaccines will eventually be available at CVS Pharmacy locations throughout the country subject to product availability, with the capacity to administer 20 – 25 million shots per month," the spokesperson added.

"We hope that both Walgreens and CVS will agree to participate and certainly, we’ll be encouraging them to do so," said Rep. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee.

RELATED: DeSantis calls on federal government to send more COVID-19 vaccine doses to Florida

Congressman Soto, who sits on the congressional committee that oversees the CDC, wants to see CVS and Walgreens added to Florida’s list.

"Publix and Walmart are in many communities but not all, and when you add on both Walgreens and CVS, you expand out to many other communities that may not be big enough for a large grocery store," said Soto, "particularly in rural areas and communities of color that have fallen behind."

The CDC plans to begin by distributing oe million doses, every week, to each provider to split among its locations nationwide.

"There isn’t enough vaccine out in the community," said Alan Harris, Emergency Manager for Seminole County.

Harris said the county could distribute more shots if they had the doses.

Beginning next week, doses will be going out by the millions to private companies, like Walmart and Winn-dixie, under the new federal vaccine program, but Harris said it should not impact the county’s supply.

"The pharmaceutical companies will have some vaccines but it doesn’t pull from our allotment," said Harris, "completely separate from the government allocation from the state. So we’ve been told and as long as that takes place, then there’s more vaccine for all of the whole community."

Congressman Soto doesn’t care where people get the shot, just that they do.

"It’s still about getting shots in arms, so whether someone goes to their local health department or their local pharmacy, it’s still another Floridian getting a vaccine, it’s still another step closer to us getting back to normalcy."

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