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Fast-Track Vaccines

Big pharmacy chains start giving COVID vaccines today

David Brancaccio and Nancy Marshall-Genzer Feb 12, 2021
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Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
Fast-Track Vaccines

Big pharmacy chains start giving COVID vaccines today

David Brancaccio and Nancy Marshall-Genzer Feb 12, 2021
Heard on:
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Some more big retail pharmacy chains will start giving COVID vaccine shots today, a day later than expected. But, the story of the year so far is that supplies are limited.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer has more on this. The following is an edited transcript of her conversation with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio.

David Brancaccio: Which drugstores and where?

Nancy Marshall-Genzer: CVS and Walgreens, and also Walmart and Sam’s Club. They’re all set to start giving the shots today. They’re getting the vaccine directly from the federal government but in limited amounts.

It’s going to about a thousand Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in 22 states. CVS is offering the vaccine in 11 states. Walgreens in 15 states. More vaccine is being allocated to chains in medically underserved regions like rural areas and places with high poverty rates.

So, you don’t just show up at a store. First, you have to go to their websites to see if the vaccine is available in your area and then try to get an appointment.

Brancaccio: And how well is that working?

Marshall-Genzer: It’s hard to get a slot. I went on CVS’ website first thing this morning to try to get appointments for my parents. I kept getting a message that said, “We are loading more appointments for you. Please check back later.”

Brancaccio: And what are the pharmacies doing to try to keep hackers from gaming the online registrations?

Marshall-Genzer: They say they’re preparing for things like bot attacks, where “scalper bots” that are programmed to cut in line snap up all available appointments. In an email, CVS told me it has a “layered defense” so it can validate legitimate users and detect things like botnets. But it’ll be a challenge to keep the bots away, especially when there’s this kind of imbalance between supply and demand.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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