The White House announced efforts to increase vaccine supply with next week’s launch of the first phase of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination.

Starting on February 11, select retail pharmacies will begin to get the vaccine. This first week 1M Moderna doses will be distributed (that’s about 20,000 doses for Arizona). The participating pharmacies in AZ are Safeway, Fry’s and Walgreens. I also saw that some appointments will be available at a few Federally Qualified Health Centers. Importantly, appointments can be made without going through the convoluted ADHS appointment website.

Here’s a link to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health website where you can look for appointments.

The program will be expanded in subsequent weeks will be based on vaccine availability. The ultimate goal is to include more than 40,000 locations (that would be about 800 pharmacies in AZ- or about ½ of all AZ pharmacies).

The federal pharmacy program will become increasingly significant when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is authorized later this month. The J&J vaccine is perfect for pharmacies to use. Storage and handling for that vaccine is just like most other vaccines.

The FDA committee is meeting on February 26 to consider the J&J emergency use application. I expect authorization to happen by March 1 with shipments starting March 2. Hopefully the destination for many if not most of the J&J vaccines will be through this new federal pharmacy program.

February 16, 2021 Update: CNN is reporting that “… a J&J official stated that the company currently has less than 10M doses manufactured and available for distribution in the US”. This is a disappointing number as it amounts to about 200,000 doses for Arizona. At least this is a single dose vaccine so it’s equivalent to 400,000 doses of Moderna or Pfizer.

This is a big deal that will become an even bigger deal in coming weeks folks!