As pharmaceutical companies are working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to finalize and approve vaccines against the novel coronavirus, local, state, and federal officials are already preparing for mass distribution once a vaccine is available. 

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has created a COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Committee consisting of over 60 organizations, includes health care providers, pharmacies, the faith-based community, and other community partners.

Because of what’s expected to be a limited initial vaccine supply, Metro Health’s local vaccination efforts will focus on groups defined by the CDC as critical populations. Distribution will adjust as the volume of vaccine doses increases, Metro Health said in a statement.

“We will prioritize people like hospital staff and first responders for the first round of vaccinations and as supplies become more available expand out to high-risk individuals and eventually to the general public,“ stated Dr. Sandra Guerra, interim deputy director of Metro Health.

Meanwhile, in an effort “to maximize access to COVID-19 vaccines for all Americans,” the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the federal government is partnering with many large chain pharmacies and networks to distribute vaccines.

As of Nov. 6, HHS has partnered with approximately 60 percent of pharmacies in retail and grocery stores throughout the U.S., including several in the San Antonio area, in an attempt to reach more citizens, “particularly in traditionally underserved areas,” according to an HHS statement.

“The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, and our new agreement with pharmacy partners across America is a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. 

Currently, there are no COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized or approved by the FDA, though several companies, including Pfizer and Moderna, appear to be getting close.

Moderna announced on Monday that its vaccine was 94.5 percent effective. Both Moderna and Pfizer will apply to the FDA in the coming weeks for emergency authorization to provide vaccines publicly. The two companies could provide up to 20 million vaccines by December that would be prioritized for the most vulnerable. However, widespread distribution, which is where this HHS partnership with pharmacies would come into play, likely is still months away.

Here are the large retailers and grocery stores in San Antonio that have partnered with the HHS and will be carrying the vaccine:

H-E-B

In a statement, San Antonio-based Texas grocery giant H-E-B said its pharmacy teams “will play a vital role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic via our partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the State of Texas.”

“At H-E-B, the health and safety of Texans is our top priority,” H-E-B said in the statement. “Already a trusted source for all routine childhood and adult immunizations, including the administration of flu shots, we remain committed to taking care of Texans.” 

H-E-B has more than 120 store locations in or near San Antonio and more than 340 stores statewide. 

Walgreens and CVS

Both Walgreens and CVS announced agreements last month with HHS to provide and administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities nationwide with no out-of-pocket costs.

“Ensuring access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly among our most vulnerable populations, will be critical to saving lives and helping our nation recover from the pandemic,” Walgreens President John Standley said in a statement. 

“CVS Health has been on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, working across the health care spectrum in all the communities we serve and that will continue to be the case when we have a vaccine to dispense,” stated CVS Chief Medical Officer Troy Brennan.

As part of the agreement announced last Thursday, the vaccine will be available at their stores to all customers. There are approximately 60 Walgreens locations and approximately 57 CVS stores in San Antonio.

Walmart

The prominent grocery store retailer and chain Walmart also will be partnered with the HHS to administer vaccinations. 

Walmart also offers drive-thru COVID-19 testing at select locations. There are about 40 Walmart stores in or around San Antonio. 

Costco and Sam’s Club

Members of wholesale retailers Costco and Sam’s Club will be able to utilize the in-store pharmacies to get a COVID-19 vaccine. There are three Costco locations and five Sam’s Club stores in San Antonio. 

Good Neighbor Pharmacy locations

Pharmacies in San Antonio owned by Good Neighbor Pharmacy include Shavano Oaks Pharmacy, Shavano Oaks Pharmacy at Westover Hills, Alamo City Pharmacy, Davila Pharmacy, and South San Medical Building Pharmacy. 

CPESN USA Pharmacies

CPESN USA Pharmacies, has four San Antonio locations including Oakdell Pharmacy in Stone Oak, Nextdoor Pharmacy, Oakdell Pharmacy, and Carvajal Pharmacy. 

Health Mart Pharmacy locations

There are approximately 40 independently operated Health Mart-owned pharmacies in San Antonio. Find one nearby here.

H-E-B is a financial supporter of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here.

Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett reports on business and technology for the San Antonio Report.