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.

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