More vaccine access available for rural areas as Wisconsin expands federal pharmacy program

NOW: More vaccine access available for rural areas as Wisconsin expands federal pharmacy program

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- As the next phase of people becomes eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, March 22, they'll have more options of pharmacies where they can get their shots. One pharmacy owner told CBS 58 it will also help expand vaccine access in rural areas.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program is expanding in Wisconsin. Four more pharmacy chains are getting doses from the federal government: Meijer, Walmart, Managed Health Care Associates and some Hometown Pharmacy locations. Walgreens and Kroger stores were already included in the federal program in Wisconsin. 

"I think all of us want our lives back," said Jeremy Laffin, owner of Racine Hometown Pharmacy. "To have as many places (to get the vaccine) as possible available to them -- they'll speed up the process, it'll reduce the frustration."

More than 2,300 Pfizer doses will be divided among a handful of Hometown Pharmacy locations.

"I think the biggest thing is that I have a guaranteed consistent supply," Laffin said. "In the past, it's been all over the map. I've had instances where I've requested 250 shots, and I've gotten none. I've had instances where I requested 250 and I got them all."

Laffin said having a consistent supply will not only help him plan but also help his customers know they'll be able to get appointments. He said the goal is to expand to even more Hometown Pharmacy locations.

"So that will provide access to people in more rural communities who might otherwise have to drive access to the vaccine that they don't have currently," Laffin said.

People with more than a dozen medical conditions become eligible for the vaccine on Monday in Wisconsin, which Laffin said makes the announcement even more important. He's working through his waiting list right now.

"We're looking for arms at this point," Laffin said.

Anyone looking to schedule an appointment at Hometown Pharmacy can call (262) 639-1611.

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