The COVID-19 death toll has crossed the tragic 500,000 milestone in America. Most scientists and medical experts believe that at least one variant of the disease could start to push confirmed case counts upward again. The ways to prevent that aggressively include standard social distancing and masks, along with a faster rollout of the two vaccines approved so far by the federal government. A number of pharmacy chains have joined the distribution effort. So has huge discount retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST).
Among the largest problems with vaccine distribution remains scarcity. Some states still have a very limited supply, and that will not change soon. Only 13% of America’s adult population has been given at least one dose of vaccine. Less than 6% have received two shots. In all, 75,205,940 doses have been delivered and 64,177,474 shots have been given nationwide.
The rate of vaccination varies widely by state. In Alaska, 21% of residents have received at least one dose, aided by special programs for veterans and indigenous populations. In Utah, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, the figure is 11%, the nation’s lowest rate.
Costco announced its vaccine distribution plans recently. It says that it will offer supply as available, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. It will prioritize groups at the top of the list in most states. That is, those over 65, health care workers and people with preexisting conditions.
Costco specifically asks that people do not contact its stores. Availability is posted online. Its management added that most of the vaccines available will come from Moderna.
Currently, Costco’s website shows it will offer vaccines in California, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington and Puerto Rico. No specific locations are listed.
To emphasize how little vaccine is available in some of the states where Costco offers it, note that in New York, only locations in New York City are available. In California, four counties are listed, including hard-hit Los Angeles County, the largest in the country by population. Oregon has 13 locations, and Puerto Rico has four.
As a measure of how hard the vaccine is to find in some areas, Costco has a sprawling store footprint. Its total store count is 803 locations, of which 558 are in the United States and Puerto Rico. Tens of millions of new doses of vaccine will be available in the next several months. Presumably, most Costco stores will become places where people can be vaccinated then.
The Costco announcement points to two things. The first is that America’s largest pharmacies and big-box retailers will be part of the vast number of places people can receive shots. The other is how little vaccine there is now.
Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor:
Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.