Local pharmacies prepare for first vaccines

HOUSTON – Local pharmacies were getting prepared to start COVID-19 immunizations.

The CDC has partnered with Walgreens and CVS to vaccinate residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

In Texas, that would be more than 163,000 patients and staff members for CVS alone.

“They’ve told me to hire teams of individuals, so that once we get that green light, we’re able to move quickly,” said Jeff Lackey, Vice President of Talent Acquisition for CVS Health.

Both companies are hiring new employees to help.

CVS plans on hiring 10,000 new pharmacy technicians.

“The vaccine is one of our biggest hopes to be able to crush this virus, and all of us are pulling together to try to find a way to do that, said Lackey.

When vaccines are available for wider distribution, all CVS pharmacies will have them.

Your local HEB pharmacy is ready to join the effort.

“We filed our applications with the federal government and the state government, so we have the ability to distribute the vaccine,” said Scott McClelland, President of HEB. “We may be told, go to a convalescent home or a retirement home, and that would be one of the early places we go.”

McClelland said they’ve installed huge freezers to store vaccines at negative-71 degrees.

“We have 285 pharmacies, we have over 800 people who can give shots and we can give our a flu shot today,” said McClelland. “We want to be able to vaccinate as many people as quick as we can, so that we can get beyond this.”

Over at Kroger, they said COVID-19 testing has prepared them for vaccinations.

“We do expect to have some in store, but we think that to get the masses, the easiest way will more than likely be drive-thru COVID vaccine clinics,” said Marla Fielder, Head of Pharmacy for Kroger.

Fielder said they are working with hospitals to help with long-term storage and also starting vaccinating at long-term care facilities, like they have in the past.

“Our pharmacists are trained, that we do vaccines every single day. And we are just ready to go,” said Fielder.

Pharmacies said they have qualified people to give vaccinations and they’ve visited nursing and long-term care facilities in the past to vaccinate patients.

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