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Walgreens hopes to provide COVID-19 vaccination to public in the spring

Walgreens and other pharmacies will first help vaccinate health care workers and those who live and work in long-term care communities.

Major pharmacies like Walgreens are preparing to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to those eligible to receive it first in the U.S.: health care workers, and employees and residents in long-term care facilities.

The Walgreens chief medical officer said he expects to offer shots to the general public in the spring at the pharmacies.

Dr. Kevin Ban said he expects the first phase of vaccinations to take until the end of February to complete.

“Toward the end of March into early April, you can expect that we will begin the process of Phase 2 when we start to vaccinate the general population,” said Ban, the Walgreens chief medical officer.

Until everyone can be vaccinated, people should continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing and washing their hands, he said. 

“We do not have a vaccine available for all Americans, eventually we will,” Dr. Ban said. 

RELATED: Dallas County working on COVID-19 vaccine awareness campaign to educate skeptics, Judge Jenkins says

Judge Clay Jenkins said county leaders hope to get the first wave complete in Dallas County in the next four to five weeks.

“We’ll be working through our health care providers who have been around COVID the most, say more than fifteen minutes a day and then working to people who have been around them for less than that,” Jenkins said. “We’ll be getting into our nursing homes and trying to get all of our population there inoculated as well.”

Jenkins said the vaccines will be disseminated in "an equitable way" to the people who are the most at-risk first. 

“It’ll be done in a way that takes into account the disproportionate impact that this is having on our communities of color," he said. 

As health care leaders make their way through the first wave of vaccinations, some are curious about what to do while waiting for their turn.

“It is not possible right now to get on a waiting list. We don’t have one, but over the course of the next few months there will be more information coming out about how to do this,” Dr. Ban said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is offering guidance on who should be vaccinated first. 

The shots will be free. 

The federal government "wanted to remove the cost obstacle. So for anyone who is eligible and who receives the vaccine, it won’t carry a cost," Ban said. 

Ban said he is confident in the shots. 

“We’ve learned it’s not only an effective vaccine but most importantly it’s a safe vaccine," Dr. Ban said. 

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