Rick Gates, senior vice president of pharmacy and healthcare at Walgreens, told CNBC that getting vaccines to the general public was "not a mess" as the FDA approved Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine for emergency and plans got under way for the states to reach nearly 6 million doses by early next week.
"What you will see is that we will think very carefully about how we plan appointments, how we work with the communities we are in, in the states we are in, in priority populations to ensure that there won't be long queues at pharmacy doors and that people will have safe, convenient and efficient ways to get vaccines, "said Gates.
Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine was launched in long-term care facilities on Friday, and Walgreens pharmacists gave many of those vaccinations. The federal government has agreements with Walgreens and other pharmacies, including CVS, to vaccinate millions of people across the country. In a Friday night interview with The News with Shepard Smith, Gates described how the organization's pharmacists are trained to prepare them to effectively administer the Covid-19 vaccine.
"The safety protocol we gave our pharmacists to learn how to look for allergic reactions, how to make sure they monitor patients after vaccination, are all part of the normal process," said Gates.
So far, according to publicly available data from 20 states, the United States has vaccinated at least 66,000 people, and that number is expected to increase dramatically as more states report their numbers. Gates acknowledged that there is a lot of organization involved in the vaccination process, but underlined that "Vaccines are what we do very consistently and that monitoring patients after a vaccine is a very common thing we do through flu shots, Shingrix, or other vaccines think out there. "
Host Shepard Smith asked Gates how Walgreens would handle turning away people who come to their pharmacies to get vaccinated but are not part of a priority population. Gates said vaccines are planned in advance and not given a "walk-up" format like the flu shots. He added that Walgreens pharmacies across the country will be working with states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure those in need of vaccines get them. Gates added that there would also be reminders for people to get their second dose.
"For the community. We'll have all sorts of reminders and phone calls if we have to, to make sure Americans know they need that second dose and the right time for that dose," Gates said.