This week marks the launch of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program(link is external) which is a collaborative effort between the federal government and state health officials to provide free COVID-19 vaccinations at participating pharmacies. While these locations will initially have limited capacity to vaccinate, this program will play a critical role in accelerating local vaccination efforts in underserved communities.

“This partnership is another tool to support the great work that local public health is doing in our communities, said Gov. Tony Evers. “Just last week alone, we got over 200,000 shots in the arms of Wisconsinites, and I want to express my sincere gratitude to our vaccinators for this work. And to keep helping them in that work, we need to each do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask and staying home. It’s true that we’re getting more shots in arms, but the vaccine is still a scarce resource, and we have plenty of masks to go around, so mask up.”

Due to the limited amount of COVID-19 vaccine available nationwide, the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program will start small and expand as vaccine supply increases. Wisconsin will launch the program with 178 Walgreens locations across the state, with the majority of sites located in underserved areas. For the first week, the federal government will directly ship 17,800 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to the 178 Walgreens locations. The vaccine doses—which come directly from the federal government and will not be taken out of Wisconsin’s weekly allocation—will be limited and based on the national availability of COVID-19 vaccines. Anyone currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin will need to visit the Walgreens website to schedule an appointment(link is external). Walgreens will also be launching a call center for individuals to schedule appointments for those that may not have access to a computer. Given the limited vaccine supply, these locations may not have the capacity to vaccinate everyone currently eligible. 

In addition to this announcement, Wisconsin’s vaccination program also reached a major milestone this week—nearly one in three individuals age 65 or over have received at least the first dose of vaccine. In just under two months since the first vaccine arrived in Wisconsin, over 860,389 vaccinations have been given with 197,362 Wisconsinites being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Our vaccine team and partners across the state have made significant progress in getting Wisconsin protected against COVID-19,” said DHS Interim Secretary Karen Timberlake. “It certainly is not a simple task but their hard work has made it possible to distribute vaccine in a safe, quick, and equitable manner. I also want to thank everyone in Wisconsin for their patience as we continue to accelerate our vaccine efforts.”

The following groups are currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in Wisconsin. These groups were selected due to an increased risk of exposure or vulnerability to the virus.

Currently eligible populations include:

  • Frontline health care personnel 
  • Residents in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities
  • Police, fire personnel, and correctional staff
  • Adults ages 65 and over

For detailed information on eligibility or to learn how to get vaccinated, please visit Wisconsin's COVID-19 Vaccine Phases and Eligibility webpage. For vaccination details specific to your community, contact your health care provider or your local public health department.

For up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage. We encourage you to follow @DHSWI on Facebook(link is external)Twitter(link is external), or dhs.wi on Instagram(link is external) for more information on COVID-19.

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Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Consortium, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley

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