Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership Program for COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs

The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination is a collaboration between the federal government, pharmacy partners, and states and territories to increase access to COVID-19 vaccination across the United States. This partnership involves 21 national pharmacy partners and independent pharmacy networks, representing over 40,000 retail and long-term care pharmacy locations nationwide.

Questions for the general public

Individuals who are interested in getting vaccinated at their local pharmacy should check the pharmacy’s website to find out if COVID-19 vaccine is available and if they are eligible for vaccination. You can also visit VaccineFinder.orgexternal icon or check your state health department website. Visit How Do I Get a COVID-19 Vaccine to learn more.

The program has scaled up incrementally since the launch, but with vaccine supply continuing to increase, pharmacy partners are working to provide COVID-19 vaccine in every state or territory where they have retail or long-term care pharmacy locations. The program is now rapidly expanding, with a goal set by the White House to have nearly 40,000 retail locations activated by April 19.

The eligibility criteria for vaccination is determined by each state and territory. Pharmacy partners will focus on vaccinating individuals who are eligible for vaccination based on these state-selected criteria. These population groups may include healthcare workers, other essential workers, and elderly people. Specific population groups will vary by state or territory.

Pharmacy partners will screen individuals to determine their vaccination eligibility for this program according to the criteria selected by their state or territory. Individuals may be asked about their age, occupation, or underlying medical conditions. Screening will also include checking for contraindications to COVID_19 vaccines—reasons why an individual should not receive the vaccine.

Pharmacies will not require proof of age, occupation, or any other type of credentials; however, they will rely on self-attestation for validating group membership. This assures that no one will be turned away for lack of specific identification documents (e.g., driver’s license) and eases the burden on participating pharmacies and individuals.

COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge for everyone. Participating pharmacies will bill private and public insurance for the vaccine administration fee. For uninsured patients, this fee will be reimbursed through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fundexternal icon. No one will receive a bill for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Additional information about the program

This partnership involves 21 national pharmacy partners and independent pharmacy networks, representing more than 40,000 retail and long-term care pharmacy locations nationwide. It is important to know that while vaccine supply remains limited, some pharmacies may not have vaccine or may have very limited supply.

This program was not designed to cover every pharmacy nationwide. Chain pharmacies and network administrators not included in the federal program can enroll with states directly to become COVID-19 vaccination providers. Independent pharmacies that wish to participate in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program may sign up with an existing network administrator partner to provide COVID-19 vaccination as part of the program.

CDC worked with states and territories to select initial pharmacy partners to start the program in their communities. Jurisdictions made selections based on a number of factors including the number of stores, the ability to reach some of the populations most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (those over 65 years of age, socially vulnerable communities), and alignment with their existing vaccination plan.

About 30,000 retail locations are currently administering vaccine, and the program is scaling up quickly to meet the President’s directive to activate nearly 40,000 pharmacy locations nationwide by April 19.

Weekly allocations are based on vaccine availability; the majority of each pharmacy partner’s vaccine supply is pro rata and proportional to each jurisdiction’s population. As vaccine supply increases, more retail locations continue to be added. Since the program began through April 1, pharmacy partners have administered more than 26 million doses.

As the vaccine supply grows, pharmacy partners have expanded vaccination efforts in additional states and territories based on how they can best meet demand. CDC works with pharmacy partners to ensure equitable distribution, evaluate capacity, and prevent over-saturation in certain states or locations and under-saturation.

CDC supports optimizing the use of all COVID-19 vaccine. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends expanding vaccine availability to broader population groups when vaccine supply at a certain location is in danger of being unused. Pharmacies should use this guidance when making plans to ensure no dose is wasted.

In addition to the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program highlighted above, CDC is offering the Pharmacy Transfer Program. This program allows states and territories to transfer their allocated vaccine doses to federal pharmacy partners to help vaccinate target populations in their communities. As the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program rolls out, jurisdictions may choose to change the number of doses they transfer to pharmacy partners.

Pharmacies not enrolled with CDC as COVID-19 vaccination providers can enroll directly with a state or territory’s immunization program to offer vaccination in their communities.

Yes. Three group purchasing organizations that represent long-term care (LTC) pharmacies* across the country—MHA, GeriMed, and Innovatix—are participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Other pharmacy chains and networks that work in long-term care in some capacity are participating as well.

All of these partners will receive vaccine through the program to distribute to their member LTC pharmacies. Long-term care facilities (LTCFs) can check with their local LTC pharmacy to see if they are receiving vaccine through this program.

*An LTC pharmacy is a specialized pharmacy designed specifically to support individuals living in an LTC facility or community

Questions for teachers, school staff and childcare workers

The following are eligible:

  • Teachers and staff in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools, Head Start and Early Head Start, and Part C Early Interventionexternal icon programs
  • Licensed childcare providers, including center-based and family childcare providers and home visitors
  • Pre-K through 12th grade classroom aides, bus drivers, janitors, counselors, administration staff, and cafeteria workers

Yes.

No. Childcare workers employed by private households are not covered under this directive.

To find where to get vaccinated, CDC has created a webpage that lists the pharmacy partners currently participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program in your state. Teachers, school staff, and childcare workers who are interested in getting vaccinated at their local pharmacy can also check the pharmacy’s website to find out if COVID-19 vaccine is available. Participating locations for the federal retail pharmacy program are also listed on www.vaccinefinder.orgexternal icon.

Teachers, school staff, and childcare workers are being prioritized for vaccination appointments through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program throughout the month of March. Additionally, the President has directed all states and jurisdictions to ensure teachers, school staff, and childcare workers are listed as a currently eligible priority group in their vaccination plans.

Teachers, school staff, and childcare workers will continue to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations and can receive vaccination wherever services are offered.

Page last reviewed: April 12, 2021