Nearly 18,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine heading to Wisconsin under federal program launched by Biden administration

Nearly 18,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be sent to Walgreens locations in Wisconsin starting next week through a federal program announced Tuesday by the Biden administration.

The vaccine will be shipped directly to retail pharmacies in an effort to expedite vaccinations across the country, federal officials said.

That includes 17,800 COVID-19 vaccine doses being sent to 190 Walgreens locations in Wisconsin, Walgreens said.

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said the program would start with about one 1 million doses sent to 6,500 pharmacies beginning next week. The number of pharmacies could ultimately reach 40,000.

“This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinations in their communities,” Zients said. “And it’s an important component to delivering vaccines equitably.”

Zients said 10.5 million doses will be distributed to states this week, up 5% from last week and a 22% increase in weekly doses since President Joe Biden took office Jan. 20.

Walgreens in other areas — including Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Vermont and West Virginia — are also participating.

Other pharmacies, including independent pharmacies, will also be participating in the program.

Walgreens said this does not mean that vaccine will be available to everyone in the states and jurisdictions involved in the retail program, and that they will follow the states’ guidelines when it comes to prioritized populations.

In Wisconsin, that currently includes health care workers, EMTs, police and firefighters, and people ages 65 and older.

Walgreens said that, based on CDC recommendations, it selected stores based on their proximity to socially vulnerable and medically under-served areas.

Contact Mary Spicuzza at Follow her on Twitter at @MSpicuzzaMJS.