CVS, Walgreens Look for Sales Bump From Covid-19 Boosters | WBA Message Board Posts

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Msg  75 of 78  at  8/19/2021 12:29:13 PM  by


CVS, Walgreens Look for Sales Bump From Covid-19 Boosters

CVS, Walgreens Look for Sales Bump From Covid-19 Boosters
Dow Jones
By Sharon Terlep 

Drugstores are gearing up to administer Covid-19 booster shots, which are expected to deliver another sales bump for big chains including CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

Hours after U.S. health officials last week approved third doses for Americans with weakened immune systems, CVS and Walgreens opened up for same-day or walk-in vaccination appointments for booster shots. On Wednesday, the Biden administration called for a third Covid-19 shot starting in the fall for adults, which would fuel another wave of demand.

Booster shots are rolling out as demand for initial shots also is on the rise. More people are getting their first shot amid a surge in cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant and as more employers, businesses and government entities are requiring people to get vaccinated for work, travel and to participate in leisure activities.

Meanwhile, many government-run mass vaccination sites shut down this summer as demand waned, making drugstores a more-critical source for vaccines. Walgreens, for instance, says it has noted a 30% rise in demand for vaccines in the past few weeks while the U.S. overall has logged an increase of 15% to 25% in that time.

State and local health agencies continue to play a big role in vaccinations, though public-sector efforts have shifted away from stadium-size mass vaccination sites in favor of smaller, targeted efforts that aim to reach communities where people lack access to medical care or are hesitant to get a shot.

Both CVS and Walgreens said this week that they are preparing for another wave of vaccine demand and have the capacity to administer booster shots.

"This is kind of an important role that we play, even more important now without as many large-scale sites up," CVS finance chief Shawn Guertin, said in a call this month with analysts. "We want to make sure we have the capacity."

CVS's Mr. Guertin noted the challenge in remaining prepared for a surge in vaccine demand without getting saddled by excess capacity. In the vaccine rollout's early days, Americans struggled to find appointments and faced wait times of days or weeks. Demand plummeted this summer and many chains downsized vaccine operations in stores.

CVS has said it was reallocating some of the legions of pharmacists and technicians either hired or repurposed for the vaccine push.

A new wave of vaccine demand is good news for the big U.S. retail pharmacy chains, many of which are working in concert with the federal government to inoculate the masses. The federal government program includes nearly two dozen retail pharmacies, including Kroger Co., Walmart Inc. and Rite Aid Corp., as well as CVS and Walgreens.

Roughly one-third of the nearly 400 million vaccine doses distributed throughout the U.S. since December have gone to companies involved in the government partnership, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccines are delivering added revenue at a time when the pandemic has slowed store traffic and led to increased costs.

Both CVS and Walgreens have said they are getting a significant boost from vaccine administration, particularly after the amount that the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pay pharmacies and other providers rose this spring to $40 for each dose, up from $28 for a single dose and $45 for two doses.

The companies warned investors last month that a faster-than-expected drop-off in demand for shots was denting their business, but said third shots, if approved, would bolster revenue.

The U.S. plans to start offering the extra dose after the Food and Drug Administration, which is conducting an independent review, authorizes it. People 65 and older and individuals in chronic-care facilities are expected to get boosters first, along with health workers and anyone else who was vaccinated earliest, according to federal health officials.

Health officials say the extra dose will be offered free, similar to previous shots, and that the U.S. has ample supplies to meet demand, with shots to be administered at the 80,000 pharmacies and other vaccination sites operating across the country.

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