Some big U.S. pharmacies will not check ID before administering COVID-19
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[January 15, 2021]
By Richa Naidu, Tina Bellon and Aishwarya Venugopal
CHICAGO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Many U.S.
pharmacies, including those inside Kroger Co supermarkets and the
drugstore chain of CVS Health Corp, say they will not be checking IDs
before administering COVID-19 vaccines, leaving the door open to those
who do not meet states' guidelines to jump the line.
While the United States has distributed more than 30 million vaccine
doses, a little over 11 million had been administered as of Thursday, a
lag that prompted U.S. health secretary Alex Azar to call on states to
begin vaccinating the vulnerable older population and those with certain
chronic health conditions to get more vaccines into arms.
U.S. retailers face a choice of strictly enforcing state eligibility
rules with on-site identity checks, or rely on an honor system that
could allow people to ignore those guidelines but also get more people
"State and local guidelines vary across the 40 public health
jurisdictions we serve, but in most cases, identification will not be
required to receive the vaccine," a Kroger spokeswoman said. The biggest
U.S. grocery chain has so far administered about 7,800 COVID-19 vaccines
to healthcare workers and nursing home staff and residents.
Twenty-two states have moved toward using age as the main criteria for
prioritizing inoculations, with four more set to follow next week.
Others are adhering to strict guidelines meant to assure that scarce
coronavirus vaccine supplies went first to healthcare workers, nursing
home residents and first responders.
Teachers and other "essential workers" are supposed to be among those
next in line as distribution widens, but who qualifies as an essential
worker varies by state.
"We are not planning to ask for ID to receive a COVID-19 vaccination," a
CVS Health spokesman said. "These vaccinations will be appointment-only
in our stores and patients will have already gone through an eligibility
screening when they register for an appointment on our website, through
our app or via a 1-800 number."
However, the accuracy of information provided in eligibility screenings
conducted by some companies is not automatically checked at the
Walgreens Boots Alliance said it would follow state and local guidance
on how to verify eligibility.
Hy-Vee, which operates grocery stores and pharmacies in Illinois,
Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin and other Midwestern states, said it has
included its own warning on its website that ID may - or may not - be
asked for prior to the shot being given. "So far, we have had no
problems," a spokeswoman said.
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People walk by a CVS Pharmacy store in the Manhattan borough of New
York City, New York, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon
Stop & Shop Supermarket, located in the northeastern United States,
said it would check IDs or pay stubs if instructed to do so by
individual states. Publix Super Markets, which operates in Florida
and other southeastern states, said people would need to provide
"proof of insurance and/or their driver's license or social security
"GET THEM INTO THE ARMS"
In Washington D.C., which relies on pharmacy chains Safeway and
Giant Food to administer vaccines, it is unclear who verifies
people's healthcare worker status.
A district website allowing healthcare workers to register for a
vaccine tells them they will be verified via their work ID badge or
an employer letter during the pharmacy appointment.
But Giant Food in a statement said it was just checking the photo ID
and insurance card of anyone who secured an appointment through the
A spokeswoman for the DC health department said the vaccination team
would raise the issue with Giant Food. Safeway parent Albertsons
Companies Inc did not respond to requests for comment.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt
University's medical school, attributed the lack of planning and
diverging local guidance to chronic underfunding of the U.S.
healthcare system, with the ongoing pandemic straining resources
Schaffner said the solution was to increase vaccine availability and
hire more vaccinators.
"The more vaccines you have, the less you have to worry about
prioritization," Schaffner said. "We know it's not going to be
perfect, but who cares, we need to get them into the arms."
(Reporting By Richa Naidu in Chicago, Tina Bellon in New York and
Aishwarya Venugopal in Bangalore; Editing by Joe White, Ed Tobin and
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