Many pharmacies are already administering vaccine doses that have been allocated to states. Under the new program, the federal government would ship doses directly to pharmacies. The new pharmacy initiative — which is aimed at broadening access to vaccines generally — is separate from an ongoing federal program to have Walgreens and CVS vaccinate residents of long-term care facilities.

White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters that the government will ship only about 1 million doses per week to about 6,500 pharmacies through the new program at first. The vaccine sent directly to pharmacies starting next week will be in addition to the weekly shipments to states, which this week will total roughly 10.5 million doses.