Walgreens’ Plans to Provide COVID-19 Vaccine Access in Medically Underserved Communities
Pharmacy Times® interviewed Rina Shah, PharmD, group vice president of pharmacy operations and services at Walgreens, on Walgreens’ plans to provide access to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines among vulnerable populations in medically underserved communities.
Alana Hippensteele: So, although 80% of the US population lives within 5 miles of a Walgreens pharmacy, for those 20% of the population that do not, are there any plans in place to reach these vulnerable populations?
Rina Shah: Yeah, that's something that we're extremely committed to at Walgreens: Vaccine equity and health equity is important. In order for us to really look at how we can get into the new normal for us, we need everyone vaccinated, we need herd immunity across the community, and especially in vulnerable communities where there's underserved communities or other black and brown communities, it's important that we continue our efforts not only on education but access to care.
So, we are committed to help support that. We've done quite a bit in the past by leveraging our flu immunization program as well as what we've done with COVID-19 testing. And so, when we look to what we're planning on doing in the near future, it's not only leveraging our footprint, in which right now 70% of our stores are in medically underserved communities, we've also ensured that our testing sites are in the same vein.
And then where we may not have a physical location, we will be working with community leaders and various thought leaders in those communities so that we can get to those individuals by setting up off-site clinics or mass vaccination clinics, may it be at a church parking lot or at a community rec center, we've done that in the past with flu vaccinations. What we're looking to do for COVID-19 vaccinations [is to] do the same [thing] so that those that might have transportation issues, we'd be able to ensure that we're getting to that population.