Pharmacies wait for COVID-19 vaccines: ‘We definitely could do more’

Posted at 2:11 AM, Jan 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-30 07:52:30-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va., — For the past five weeks, Bremo Pharmacy and its employees have vaccinated hundreds of people in Central Virginia.

Bremo is one of three locally-owned pharmacies that have partnered with the Richmond-Henrico Health District to reach more people eligible for a vaccine under Phases 1A and 1B.

The Virginia Department of Health tasked its staff to inoculate local doctor’s offices not connected to a hospital system and group homes in Metro Richmond.

“Now it’s like everything we did in January we have to do again in February,” Bremo Pharmacy President Catherine Cary said. “As we finish with the second dose we’re hoping they’ll send us more and we will be able to vaccinate more people.”

Currently, Walgreens and CVS have worked with the state to vaccinate residents and staff of long-term care facilities.

Outside of that, local pharmacies across the state have administered 18,000 doses out of nearly 700,000 total doses.

State Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said there were 420 privately-owned pharmacies across the state that have been approved to become vaccinators.

The only thing standing in their way is the short supply of doses.

“They are ready to serve in whatever ways needed, but because we are focusing on the large-scale vaccinations especially in the population centers pharmacies have had a smaller part of the pie,” Dr. Avula said during a Friday teleconference.

Moving forward, pharmacies of every kind will be needed to ensure the state reaches its goal of 50,000 doses administered per day.

Those facilities will be crucial for a return to normalcy especially in rural areas far from urban centers and mass vaccination clinics.

Meanwhile, Dr. Cary’s staff and her clients wait for more doses.

“Our pharmacists are excited to do this, and we have volunteers willing to help us with the clinics as well. We definitely could do more if there was more vaccine available,” she said. "We get heartbreaking stories every day of individuals who definitely need the vaccine and we really, really want to help them -- but we just have to be a little bit more patient."