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‘A game changer’: More Wisconsin pharmacies added to Federal Retail Partnership Program

Pharmacists say the federal program offers a more consistent and larger supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 9:40 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2021 at 10:35 PM CDT
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OREGON, Wis. (WMTV) - More COVID-19 vaccine is coming to Wisconsin pharmacies directly from the federal government, a step pharmacists said will be a major boost to the vaccine rollout. A new group of Wisconsin pharmacies joined the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership Program last week, including two dozen Hometown Pharmacies.

“This is going to be a game changer,” said pharmacist Kim Shumaker at Hometown Pharmacy in Oregon. Shumaker added, “We’re still working on the previous group, the nonessential frontline employees which, our list is quite long, with that group.”

Shumaker said allocation from the state is inconsistent. Her pharmacy has received just two allocations from the state.

“We couldn’t necessarily count on what we were requesting,” she explained.

Monday afternoon, Shumaker received her first weekly supply from the federal government. With more people becoming eligible for the vaccine, the more consistent supply is a major boost.

“We have had so many requests that hopefully we’ll be able to fulfill in a more timely manner than we were with the smaller allocations from the state,” Shumaker said.

Hometown Pharmacy’s clinical director Abbi Linde said for some pharmacies, this is the first set of doses they have ever received.

“Two of our Hometown Pharmacies that hadn’t received any from the state thus far were able to receive it because of the federal program,” Linde described.

Linde added the federal allocation will not go down, allowing pharmacies to plan ahead.

“[It] allows us to do some of these bigger employer groups or do some scheduling in advance,” she explained.

Both Linde and Shumaker said this expands access, not just in urban areas, but in more rural communities as well.

“If people have to drive more than a few minutes, that really can be prohibitive for some people,” Linde explained.

Shumaker added about rural pharmacies, “We will be able to team up with them and get the vaccine out there.”

Linde said 24 of Hometown’s more than 70 pharmacies are now part of the federal program, but after receiving over 2,000 doses in the first week, the company is looking into signing up more locations.

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