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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — When you’re ready for the COVID-19 vaccine, where do you go to get it?

Spring of next year, perhaps February or March, is when the U.S. government says you should start to see general public COVID-19 vaccinations. When you walk into a pharmacy to get that vaccine, you can expect it to be similar to getting a flu shot.

The United States is getting ready for the massive effort for millions of Americans. So, who is going to help with this? CVS Health and Walgreens.

Troy Brennan, executive vice president and chief medical officer of CVS Health, said, “Once we get into general distribution, I suspect that not only ourselves and Walgreens, but there’s going to be a number of other pharmacy chains and grocers will be involved in it. I think that when using all those various outlets, we’re going to have very good penetration across the United States.”

Walgreens said the vaccines will be available in all of its U.S. stores when approved for mass distribution. CVS Health also shared its plan to have the vaccine at all of their locations. Once they are up and running, a CVS Health spokesperson said, it can administer up to 25 million shots every month.

For the general public, a rep with CVS Health told News 8, appointments will be required for COVID-19 vaccinations. You’ll be prompted to schedule both your first dose and the booster shot at the same time. You’ll also get a vaccine card after your first dose as well as follow-up reminders.

A Walgreens spokesperson told News 8 in a statement, “Walgreens is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the administration in support of Operation Warp Speed to help administer COVID-19 vaccines, once available, to high priority groups, including long-term care facility residents and staff and healthcare workers.”

Walgreens will be collaborating with 27,000 long-term care facilities across the nation that have selected the pharmacy as their vaccine provider. Walgreens said it has the pharmacist expertise, data and reporting infrastructure, cold storage capacity, and nationwide footprint required to manage the complexities of administering a COVID-19 vaccine. It will be administering all Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines as determined by federal and state local governments.

Walgreens says its pharmacists and immunizing technicians will be responsible for administering the vaccine.

Rick Gates, senior vice president of pharmacy and healthcare with Walgreens, said, “We’re creating online apps, ways that we can actually have them sign up online. We can verify their eligibility and schedule them times not only for their first shot, but also for their subsequent shot to ensure they have serious completion where it’s necessary.”

What about cold storage?

A CVS Health rep told News 8 that all 10,000 U.S. locations already can freeze and refrigerate five of the six vaccines in development, including Moderna’s. As for the Pfizer vaccine, which requires ultralow temperatures, CVS Health told News 8 it has that covered with a third party.

Walgreens plans to use ultracold freezers and dry-ice storage hubs to keep vaccines that need subzero cold.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a list of chain and independent pharmacies that have signed on to administer COVID vaccines.

Both CVS and Walgreens have very detailed “Frequently Asked Questions” sections about the COVID-19 vaccine.

CVS vaccination information

Here is more information about COVID vaccine distribution, provided to News 8 by a spokesperson for CVS Health:

Current Vaccination Status

We’ll be ready to administer COVID-19 vaccines in long-term care facilities based on anticipated emergency use authorization for one or more vaccine candidates; more than 40,000 facilities have selected CVS as their vaccination partner.  It’s important to remember that we run seasonal flu clinics in thousands of these locations every year, which means our health care professionals are very familiar with this population.

When vaccines are available for wider distribution we’ll offer them at all of our CVS Pharmacy locations, and will have the capacity to administer 20 – 25 million shots every month.  Our experience providing vaccinations in a retail setting will be key – this year we’ll administer nearly 20 million vaccinations (including flu shots) – and we’ll apply learnings from our massive COVID-19 testing operation.  These include safety measures and cleaning protocols, as well as utilizing a seamless digital experience that will allow people to book their appointments and receive important reminders. Bottom line: we’re prepared to play a critical role in the vaccination process utilizing our vast experience and army of trained health care professionals.

Cold storage

Storage of COVID-19 vaccines has been widely discussed given different requirements for different manufacturers. Here’s the good news – all 10,000 CVS Pharmacy locations already have standard refrigeration and freezing capabilities for five of the six vaccine candidates, including Moderna’s. Pfizer has an ultra-cold requirement, which the company has addressed – special shippers that utilize dry ice will be used to transport vaccines. After five days at our pharmacies the dry ice can be replenished, and again five days later and five days after that. After 15 days the vaccines can be refrigerated for another five, meaning we can store them in our pharmacies for up to 20 days.

Eventual Appointment Process for the General Public  

We’ll administer nearly 20 million vaccinations (including flu shots) this year – more than double our 2019 total – and the vast majority happen in our stores. However, the process for a COVID-19 vaccination will be slightly different: Vaccinations will be appointment-only. Think of it like a round-trip ticket – when you register on or through the CVS app, you’ll book your first and second shots. Before both, you’ll receive plenty of reminders (texts, calls, etc.) so you don’t miss either – especially the second. We’ll also have a dedicated 800 number for people without online access.

Pricing to the General Public

No patient will be charged for the vaccine or its administration. The government will provide the vaccine itself, and the health care providers who administer the vaccine will be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance or, in the case of uninsured patients, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) program for uninsured patients, for the administration of the vaccine. CMS has established the reimbursement rates for administration of the vaccine for patients covered by Medicare and Medicaid as well as those covered by the program for the uninsured.