ST. LOUIS — Mayor Lyda Krewson sent a letter to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Friday, asking for the state to approve CVS and Walgreens pharmacies as COVID-19 vaccination sites.
Unlike in Illinois, pharmacies in Missouri are not yet vaccinating on site. The state has partnered with two chains, Walmart and Health Mart pharmacies, to distribute vaccine, Krewson said in her letter. But, even if those get the green light to vaccinate, the choice would still leave St. Louis short on vaccine-approved pharmacies, Krewson said.
“Presently, there are no Walmart stores within the City of St. Louis, and only three Health Mart pharmacies,” she wrote in the letter, dated Friday.
And the three Health Marts do not have the capacity to vaccinate the qualified population of St. Louis, Krewson said.
In comparison, there are 14 CVS and 17 Walgreens pharmacies in the city, said Krewson spokesman Jacob Long.
Gov. Parson’s spokeswoman, Kelli Jones, said in a statement to the Post-Dispatch on Friday that the federal government, not Missouri, selected the pharmacy chains in the retail pharmacy partnership. “The state of Missouri is working with local offices and health care providers to ensure equitable distribution of available vaccine supply through all of our distribution channels,” the statement said.
It was not immediately clear on Friday if CVS and Walgreens were part of the federal retail pharmacy partnership.
But the two have been part of a nationwide plan to deliver vaccinations to residents and staff in long-term care facilities. In December, they began inoculating 120,000 Missourians at long-term care homes.
Illinois announced additional pharmacy partnerships on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to more than 300. The pharmacies in Illinois include Walgreens, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, Kroger and Mariano’s. Locations can be found online at coronavirus.illinois.gov.
The vaccinations are by appointment only and supplies are described as “extremely limited.”
Supply is the main issue, Krewson agreed.
“The supply just has to increase, and it will,” Krewson said at a Friday briefing. “But everyone is frustrated right now.”
The city and region’s COVID-19 numbers are improving, Krewson said, but not enough to relax social restrictions yet.
“We’re closer than we were a month ago, but we’re not there,” she said. “We’re worried about a lot of things, the least of which is not the new strains of COVID coming out.”
Missouri reported 1,325 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, down from 1,399 the day before. The seven-day average of new cases continued to fall — to 1,131, the lowest level since August, according to a Post-Dispatch analysis.
Area hospitalization figures also fell, though total capacity hung above 80% full.