BOISE — COVID-19 vaccine access is expanding across Idaho this week with the rollout of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. The collaboration between federal and state governments and roughly 40,000 pharmacies will facilitate the distribution of 1 million doses.
Through the program, the federal government will ship 5,000 doses per week directly to Albertsons and Walmart locations in Idaho, state Department of Health and Welfare spokesman Zachary Clark said.
“We understand vaccinations at Walmart begin on Friday,” Clark said.
Walmart’s emphasis is on reaching people “in underserved communities with limited access to healthcare,” a company statement said this week. Local Walmart pharmacies offering the vaccine are on Cleveland Boulevard in Caldwell; Franklin Road in Nampa; and American Legion Boulevard in Mountain Home.
Although Albertsons is participating in the rollout, the retail chain hasn’t announced specific locations yet. The company’s Sav-on pharmacies have already been administering vaccines through a separate federal program.
Vaccine supply remains limited in Idaho, but the state’s weekly allotment has increased to 25,000 from the approximately 21,000 doses the state was receiving weekly since mid-January.
State Health Director Dave Jeppesen and Gov. Brad Little have said that supply is limited because allocations are based on the number of adults in each state. Idaho has one of nation’s largest proportions of children, and officials have speculated that census data does not accurately reflect the state’s rapidly growing population.
The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which President Biden announced Feb. 2, is different from the existing federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care program with CVS and Walgreens. Idaho officials have reallocated a total of 26,200 doses from the program due to a slower-than-expected rollout.
Over 167,000 Idahoans have received at least one vaccine. At this time, eligible residents include those 65 and older, health care workers, first responders, school employees, childcare workers, and certain other essential workers.
Nationwide, nearly 45 million doses have been administered since the vaccine rollout began in December, though racial disparities remain significant, with white Americans receiving the majority of doses, according to CDC data published Monday. Idaho’s state vaccine tracking system will begin displaying race and ethnicity data this weekend.