Skowhegan, Maine: Pat and John Thomas were watching the news one night last week when they saw that Walmart in this central Maine city of 8,000 people was making appointments for the Covid-19 vaccination. They had signed up for vaccinations at a hospital about a month ago, but had yet to receive a response. Mrs. Thomas, a 74-year-old retiree, jumped on the computer.
On Friday, the couple received the first doses of Skowhegan Walmart under a new federal government program that provides Covid-19 vaccines directly to retail pharmacies across the country.
“We will be able to see our family and friends,” said Ms. Thomas, a former assistant bank manager who has been married to her husband, a 78-year-old retired accountant, for 48 years. “It will be nice to be able to visit and go somewhere when you are not afraid.”
Walmart Inc., the largest US retailer and private employer, will become one of the largest distributors of the Covid-19 vaccine as the federal government enlists retail pharmacies to accelerate what has been a choppy rollout. .
Last week, 21 retail chains and pharmacy networks began administering those doses, including CVS, Walgreens, Kroger and grocery stores in all 50 states. Initially, the government plans to administer about a million doses a week directly to pharmacies. About 200,000 of them go to Walmart, a spokeswoman said.