Though pharmacies are ready to answer the call of vaccinating willing people, an association leader says the limited supply of vaccines at the moment remains their biggest constraint.
Steven Anderson is president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. The organization represents traditional drug stores, supermarkets and mass merchants with pharmacies. In a conference call Wednesday afternoon, Anderson said one of the reasons why pharmacies are well-equipped to handle vaccinations is due to accessibility.
According to Anderson, 90% of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy.
“Based on conservative assumptions, pharmacies have the capacity to meet the demand for 100 million vaccine doses in just one month when that level of supply is available,” Anderson said Wednesday.
At Perrone Pharmacy in Fort Worth, Dr. Marcus Zavala said they invested in three freezers to accommodate both Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines. Their freezers can store thousands of doses, Dr. Zavala said.
Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?
County health departments have launched waitlists for adults 16 years old and over.
You can register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:
You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.
So far, the pharmacy has received and used their first allotment of 200 doses.
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“We have a lot of patients waiting. We have a lot of first responders that are waiting in line that we have the capabilities to get to but we just need the vaccine,” Zavala told NBC 5 Wednesday. “I would say the majority of our phone calls are non-pharmacy related but vaccine related. Even numbers that are not public numbers, even our back office…things like that…are getting vaccine questions. The demand is definitely there, but we are prepared for it.”
The pharmacy has started a waiting list for people interested in receiving the vaccine. As of Wednesday, Zavala said they likely had “a couple thousand” on the list.
His recommendation for people seeking vaccines is look into as many places offering the vaccine as possible.
“The city may call them tomorrow, we may call them the next day,” he said. “I would say the best bet is try to seek it out but get on as many lists as possible.”
Above all, Zavala and other healthcare professionals administering the vaccine are urging the public to remain patient.
According to the Texas State Health Services dashboard, more than 2 million doses have been allocated as of Wednesday. Of that, 259,775 doses have been allocated to pharmacies in Texas.
Lara Anton, press officer for Texas DSHS, noted the doses sent to Texas pharmacies participating in the federal Pharmacy Partnership for LTC Program are not included in the data reflected on the dashboard because the state did not make those allocations.
"It’s important to understand that the supply of vaccine is still limited by both the manufacturers’ ability to produce it and the amount allotted to Texas by the federal government. We receive more each week, but we ask people to be patient while the supply is limited," Anton wrote in an email to NBC 5 Wednesday.