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CDC includes Puerto Rico in expanded COVID-19 vaccination program with Walgreens

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has selected Walgreens to provide a limited number of COVID-19 vaccinations across 15 states and jurisdictions — including Puerto Rico — as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

Vaccinations will begin in stores Feb. 12 to eligible individuals based on state and jurisdiction guidelines, and may include healthcare workers, people ages 65 and older, and individuals with pre-existing conditions, the company said.

“We just got this information, so we don’t have specifics on how many vaccines we’ll get. We’re waiting on that to define what the action plan will be for people 65 and older,” Eileen Ortega, director of operations for Walgreens Puerto Rico, confirmed to this media outlet.

The people who will be able to participate in this program will have to make an appointment to be able to go to the store to receive the vaccine, she said.

“We won’t be receiving walk-ins. However, at this time, that website isn’t up and won’t be running until we receive more vaccines,” she said. “As soon as we get them, we’ll open the website so that people 65 and older can make an appointment.”

The CDC selected Walgreens as a pharmacy partner in specific states and jurisdictions to optimize vaccine access in medically underserved areas and areas with a high social vulnerability index score, it said.

A defined number of vaccine doses will be allocated from the CDC directly to Walgreens in each geography. Those states and local jurisdictions include: Chicago; Connecticut; Delaware; Illinois; Kentucky; Maryland; New Hampshire; New Mexico; New York; New York City; North Carolina; Puerto Rico; Vermont; Wisconsin; and West Virginia.

The CDC’s announcement builds upon the work that Walgreens has been doing for the past few weeks to vaccinate the elderly population in Puerto Rico. The drugstore chain has already administered 8,000 vaccines to local 65-and-older residents who were able to make an appointment and go to one of 40 selected stores islandwide, Ortega said.

The drugstore is also working to vaccinate residents in more than 1,000 extended-care elderly homes in Puerto Rico. Since Jan. 4, the company has visited more than 600 of those facilities to vaccinate residents and employees, Ortega said.

“Our pharmacy personnel have already administered more than 20,000 vaccines and starting next week, we should be completing the first visit to those extended-care facilities,” she said.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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