The Surprising Way Walmart Is Helping Fight COVID-19

The race to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19 began nearly one month ago with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Emergency Use Authorization of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. With the U.S. population tipping 331 million people, the vaccine roll-out has been somewhat messy, and varies greatly between states and territories due to a lack of vaccine supply availability as well as lack of medical personnel or proper medical equipment. On the heels of the recent announcement coming from the Biden administration, that an additional 200 million vaccines were purchased, there seems to be real hope that Americans may be vaccinated by the end of this upcoming summer (via CNN).

Mega-retailer Walmart is pledging to give the U.S.'s vaccination efforts a big boost. With more than 5,000 stores country-wide, nearly 4,000 of those locations are in parts of the country with limited access to adequate healthcare resources, deemed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as "medically underserved" communities (via Grocery Dive). Already administering COVID-19 vaccines in New Mexico and Arkansas, Walmart is now planning on expanding its vaccination efforts through its pharmacies to several other states including: New Jersey, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Indiana, and Texas (via CNN).

Walmart may play big role in achieving herd immunity

Eventually, when vaccine supply is more readily available, Walmart expects to have the capacity to administer between 10 to 13 million doses per month across all its locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Walmart is not alone in its efforts — many other pharmacy chains across the nation have stepped up to be vaccination sites. CVS recently also stated it hopes to be able to vaccinate 20 to 25 million doses per month. With numbers like these, vaccinating the entire country sounds less daunting and like a more reasonable goal.

While the goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible, achieving herd immunity is the first step in opening up our world again. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, "good herd immunity" could be achieved if 70 to 85 percent of the population gets vaccinated against COVID-19, he told NPR. Dr. Fauci, in addition to the Biden Administration, remains optimistic that this could occur by the end of summer 2021.

The truth remains, the closer the U.S. comes to achieving herd immunity, to closer we can all get back to some semblance of a "new normal" and take all the lessons we learned during these difficult times to become the best versions of ourselves.