Where will you be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Florida?
Besides vaccination sites (similar to COVID-19 testing sites) that are expected to open across the state, you’ll eventually be able to get vaccinated during your grocery run.
Publix, Walmart, Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Más, Sam’s Club and Costco were some of the companies approved in November by the federal government to administer the vaccines to the general public. So were CVS and Walgreens, which are currently distributing the vaccines to long-term care facilities.
Walgreens expects to have vaccines readily available to the general population sometime in the spring. CVS told the Miami Herald in an email that doses could be available at its Florida pharmacies in late March at the earliest.
No matter which pharmacy you go to, the vaccine won’t cost anything (U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill) though some places might charge a fee for administering it. However, that fee will be reimbursed by your insurance or, if you are uninsured, by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) program.
Will you need to make an appointment?
Both CVS and Walgreens say yes.
Once a COVID-19 vaccine is broadly available, Walgreens said it will provide online scheduling options similar to how it schedules flu and other routine vaccinations. At CVS, COVID-19 vaccine appointments will be done through the CVS mobile app.
Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies are making preparations to receive the vaccines, including a system to inform people when they should receive their first and second doses. However, the companies said that the vaccine availability will likely differ by state, making it difficult to forecast when the stores will receive the vaccine.
Publix said it was still finalizing its distribution plan and declined to give any specifics, including whether appointments would be required. Costco declined to comment, and Winn-Dixie did not respond to a request for comment.
Which COVID-19 vaccine will CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and others have?
Vaccine availability at your pharmacy will depend on which vaccine the government decides to allocate to them once the vaccine is ready to hit their shelves.
Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines were given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration this month. Other potential vaccines are also expected to be reviewed by the FDA early next year.
Florida so far has been using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to vaccinate healthcare workers and long-term care residents. Some counties have also begun to vaccinate people 65 and older this week.
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While it’s still not clear which vaccine will at your local pharmacy, expect to make two appointments. Pfizer’s vaccine requires two shots, three weeks apart, and can be given to people 16 and older, for example, while Moderna’s vaccine requires two shots, one month apart, and can be given to people 18 and older. Neither vaccine will give you COVID-19.
In order to distribute the Pfizer vaccine, the pharmacy would need a special freezer that can keep it at more than 100 degrees below zero. That’s colder than winter in Antarctica. Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in normal freezers.
Regardless of which vaccine is available, you will be given a vaccination card, which includes information on which vaccine you received and when your next dose is. This is important since the vaccines are not interchangeable, which means if your first dose was Moderna’s vaccine, your second dose also needs to be Moderna’s.
No word yet whether any of the companies plan to offer a gift card incentive like they sometimes do for the flu shot.
Will students and teachers be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine in South Florida?