Healthcare

Walmart expands coronavirus vaccine operation

Walmart is preparing to expand its coronavirus vaccine operation to seven more states beyond the two where it's currently offering vaccinations, a spokesperson for the company confirmed to The Hill on Friday.

Walmart will begin providing vaccinations in Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina and Texas, as well as in Chicago and Puerto Rico, this week and next, according to the spokesperson.

Vaccines will be made available to specific populations decided by each state and only at a handful of stores from those states, according to Reuters, which first reported on the expansion.

The retail giant is already vaccinating health care workers in Arkansas, where it is headquartered, as well as New Mexico.

Walmart also confirmed to Reuters that it is partnering with Alabama to provide COVID-19 vaccinations.

Scott Harris, Alabama's state health officer, announced the deal on Thursday, according to Al.com, but didn't specify a timeline for when it would get underway. He also said that another deal with a "major pharmacy chain" is underway.

The expansion comes as the U.S. races to inoculate as many people as it can amid a slow vaccination campaign.

So far, more than 37.9 million vaccines have been distributed, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of which about 17.5 million have been administered.

President Biden has set a goal of administering 100 million coronavirus vaccines in the first 100 days of his presidency and on Thursday unveiled a national COVID-19 strategy that includes steps to meet that goal.

The president directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin establishing community vaccination centers, and the CDC is expanding access to vaccines through local pharmacies.

"Walmart stands ready to serve our country, our customers and our associates," the company said in a blog post Friday. "We appreciate the conversations we have had with both administrations and the ongoing conversations we are having with the new Biden administration."

"We look forward to the day we can activate our strengths to serve our communities and administer the vaccine."

Updated at 10:09 a.m.

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