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05/25/2022

Retailers are expanding COVID-19 vaccines, antiviral and test availability

In response to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, retailers, including Hy-Vee, Rite Aid, Kroger, Wegmans and H-E-B, are expanding COVID-19 vaccinations to adults and children, antiviral medications and COVID-19 tests.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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In response to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, many retailers, including Hy-Vee, Rite Aid, Kroger, Wegmans, H-E-B and Giant are expanding their offerings of COVID-19 vaccinations to adults and children, antiviral medications and COVID-19 tests.

Hy-Vee is offering Merck’s Molnupiravir and Pfizer’s Paxlovid at Hy-Vee Pharmacy locations throughout its eight-state region to help treat eligible patients who have mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19. The type of COVID-19 antiviral available varies by pharmacy location.

In order to receive a COVID-19 antiviral, patients must have a prescription from their healthcare provider. The COVID-19 antivirals are free with most insurances.

[Read more: FDA OKs Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster for 5 to 11 year olds]

According to the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization, Molnupiravir and Paxlovid should be used to treat mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 in certain adults (aged 18 years old and older) who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death. Paxlovid also may  be used to treat mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 in eligible pediatric patients aged 12 years old and older. It is recommended that patients begin COVID-19 antiviral treatment as soon as possible, and treatment must begin within five days of when symptoms begin.

Both antiviral products may only be used for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in individuals:

  • With positive results of direct COVID-19 viral testing,  and who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death, and for whom alternative COVID-19 treatment options authorized by FDA are not accessible or clinically appropriate.

Hy-Vee Pharmacy also offers convenient prescription options for patients, including drive-thru pharmacy services and free prescription delivery (where available).

All Hy-Vee Pharmacy locations also offer over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests. Under the Biden Administration’s ruling, each individual covered under private insurance or Medicare Part B can currently receive up to eight free at-home COVID-19 tests each month.

Hy-Vee Pharmacy also offers other COVID-19 testing options, available by appointment only at select locations.

Additionally, Hy-Vee Pharmacy offers free COVID-19 vaccines and boosters at all of its pharmacy locations. 

[Read more: Retailers begin offering Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots]

Rite Aid said that nearly 98% of its retail pharmacies across the 17 states it serves now offers FDA-authorized COVID-19 oral antiviral medications, Paxlovid or Molnupiravir, with a prescription from their healthcare provider.

“Rite Aid continues to be a vital resource for our communities as we help customers navigate the COVID pandemic, and we are proud to now have these medications widely available across our footprint,” said Karen Staniforth, chief pharmacy officer at Rite Aid. “We remain as committed as ever in doing our part to help keep our communities healthy, and we strongly urge anyone who hasn’t received their primary vaccination series or booster shot to do so.”

Once prescribed, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Rite Aid encourages customers filling either of these prescriptions to have a family member or friend pick up their prescription, take advantage of Rite Rite-Aid’s drive-thru locations or at-home delivery service. 

Rite Aid also recently announced that it will begin administering a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at select locations for eligible children aged 5 to 11 years old. Bartell Drugs, owned by Rite Aid, also will also begin administering boosters to this age group at select Seattle and Western Washington locations.

Children in this age group are eligible to receive a booster dose five months or longer after completing their primary series.

Appointments must be scheduled by a parent or legal guardian, and children must be accompanied by an adult to their vaccine appointment.

[Read More: COVID-19 therapeutics available at Giant, Martin’s in-store pharmacies]

“Protecting children through vaccination remains central in our continued fight against COVID-19 and caring for our communities,” said Karen Staniforth, chief pharmacy officer at Rite Aid. “As new COVID variants continue to spread, vaccination, including boosters are critical in helping to prevent serious illness and hospitalization. We encourage anyone who hasn’t scheduled their primary vaccination series for themselves or their child to do so, and to get their boosters when eligible.”

To date, Rite Aid has administered more than 16 million COVID-19 vaccinations. COVID-19 vaccines — including booster doses for adults — also available in-store.

Kroger Health, the healthcare division of Kroger, is supporting the Biden-Harris Administration's "Test to Treat" initiative for patients exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 at its 225 The Little Clinic locations in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Virginia. Following a positive test, and if otherwise clinically appropriate, at The Little Clinic, patients will receive their antiviral prescription which may be filled at a Kroger Family pharmacy. 

'Test to Treat' also is available across all 50 U.S. states via telehealth services provided by The Little Clinic for those patients with transportation or other access barriers. Patients exhibiting symptoms or concerned with exposure to the COVID-19 virus may use any of the 13 FDA-authorized at-home tests available to participate in an observed self-test with a medical professional. Following a positive test, and if otherwise clinically appropriate, The Little Clinic will provide an antiviral prescription or if negative the patient will be provided an appropriate treatment plan according to diagnosis.

The patient must acquire one of the 13 available home test kits in advance of their appointment with most test kits available for online order and delivery.

"COVID-19 therapeutics are available at all Kroger Family of Pharmacies, and Kroger Health encourages people to take advantage of these treatments as they may reduce the severity of symptoms and risk of death from infection," the retailer said on its website.

"We understand Americans are tired of this virus and its impact on our lives. We are all eager to move forward," Marc Watkins, Kroger's chief medical officer said. "However, we owe it to our families, friends and communities to get tested if symptomatic and seek treatment when appropriate. As always, receiving the manufacturer-recommended doses required for full vaccination and booster doses recommended by age and condition remain our most effective tools in controlling the spread of the disease."

[Read More: Walgreens offering Pixel by Labcorp At-Home COVID-19 PCR kits at no cost]

Wegmans has partnered with state and local government officials to offer the COVID-19 vaccine in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. Wegmans is offering the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and J&J/Janssen vaccines and booster shots to eligible individuals by appointment only.

The retailer states on its website that the CDC now recommends a single booster dose to individuals aged 5 to 11 years old at least five months after completion of a primary series with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, or for individuals aged 5 to 11 years old who are moderately to severely immunocompromised at least three months after completion of a primary series with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

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