Let pharmacy chains vaccinate the general public now, former FDA commissioner urges

Large retail pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens should be allowed to give COVID-19 vaccines to the general public now to help speed up the vaccination campaign and improve public health, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, wrote in an opinion column published in The Wall Street Journal Jan. 3. 

According to Dr. Gottlieb, the federal government is currently withholding up to 55 percent of vaccine doses available to make sure there is enough supply to give everyone receiving the first round of shots a second dose. While sticking to the dosing schedule is essential, the supply of vaccines is expanding, and more of the available shots should be given now, he wrote. 

"The best option may be to rely more on private industry. National pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens have an agreement with the federal government to provide vaccines to long-term care facilities. The government should expand this program to help vaccinate all Americans," Dr. Gottlieb wrote.

The major pharmacy chains combined could deliver up to 100 million vaccines per month. By allowing them to deliver vaccines to the general public now, public health agencies can focus resources on giving access to people in hard-to-reach communities, Dr. Gottlieb wrote. 

He said the new variants of the virus that have been detected in three states make it more urgent to deploy the vaccine as fast as possible. 

"A vaccine that’s sitting on a shelf for weeks, waiting for its perfect recipient, doesn’t help snuff out the pandemic," he concluded. 

Read the full article here.

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