When will pharmacies get COVID vaccine?

Kristin Thorne Image
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Pharmacies gear up for shipment, distribution of COVID vaccine
Small, independent pharmacies across Long Island are getting ready to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, Long Island (WABC) -- Small, independent pharmacies across Long Island are getting ready to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

Mary Vukadin, who works at Rockville Centre Pharmacy, has been coordinating weekly with federal and state officials.

"It's been a lot of work," she said. "We are on at least five to six conference calls to coordinate the work between the CDC, the government."

Vukadin said the pharmacy doesn't know how many doses of the vaccine it will receive, which is typical of all pharmacies and hospitals waiting for the vaccine.

ALSO READ | First COVID vaccine shipment could arrive Sunday

If the Pfizer COVID vaccine receives final approval by the FDA Friday, New York could get in a shipment of the vaccine as soon as Sunday.

The owner of Rockville Centre Pharmacy, Howard Jacobson, said he is willing to hire more staff, expand hours and even go to people's homes in order to give them the vaccine.

"Whatever we have to do in order to get this job done," he said.

Earlier this month, the President of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York (PSSNY) sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to make sure the vaccine is distributed equitably.

"Independent pharmacies are trusted and accessible healthcare providers in their communities," wrote Thomas D'Angelo. "PSSNY and our members can provide essential access to the New York populations that need COVID-19 vaccinations the most."

Nidhin Mohan, the owner of New Island Pharmacy in Deer Park, said he has been taking all the necessary steps to get the vaccine, including focusing on procurement, storage, staffing and distribution.

"For us, our community is the most important and to serve them is going to be an honor," he said.

Very few independent pharmacies will be able to offer the Pfizer vaccine due to the ultra-cold and expensive refrigerators required to store the vaccine. The refrigerators can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000.

Mohan said he is considering purchasing two of them, but is waiting to find out whether he will receive the Pfizer vaccine. If he is not slated to get the vaccine, he will not purchase them.

The Moderna vaccine, which is next in line for approval by federal regulators, can be stored in a regular refrigerator.

Mohan said he receives several phone calls every day from customers anxious to know when they can get the vaccine.

"We are all going to get it. It's just a matter of time," Mohan said he tells them.

ALSO READ | COVID vaccine timeline: key dates to know

With the FDA advisory panel meeting in just a few days to review the first vaccine candidate, states are working on how to distribute the Pfizer vaccine if it gets approved.


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