Safeway stores to distribute limited amount of COVID vaccine doses

A new federal program will deliver vaccine to Safeway pharmacies on the North Olympic Peninsula this week.

Port Townsend Safeway already has been receiving Moderna’s vaccine doses from the state. A federal agreement with Albertsons Companies — Safeway’s parent corporation — means that Port Townsend, Sequim and Port Angeles Safeways are expected to begin receiving Moderna doses as early as Thursday and each week thereafter.

The dose amounts will vary and be limited to as little as 100 each week for the next few weeks until vaccine production increases, said Elaine Mark, division pharmacy manager for the North Olympic Peninsula on Feb. 4.

She urged people to make appointments only online at covidappt, and to not call individual pharmacies. Pharmacy technicians must be left free to answer and return calls of patients for their other services, Mark said.

“Be patient and persistent,” said Sarah Osborne, director of external affairs for Safeway and Albertsons Seattle division, but it is asked that people interested in receiving vaccines not try to make appointments directly with the pharmacies.

The federal agreement is known as the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership Program and was announced Feb. 2 by the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to a press release from Osborne.

Other pharmacies may be added for vaccine distribution in Washington state but Albertsons was tapped for the initial roll-out, according to the White House.

Appointment slots will be made for the specific allocation for the respective store and appointments are for anyone in the Phase 1A and 1B1 categories, which includes health care personnel, long-term care facility residents, emergency medical personnel, individuals 65 years old or older and individuals older than age 50 who live in a multi-generational households.

Appointments are known to fill within an hour of being opened, and while new appointment scheduling is not set on a specific day or time due to the fluctuations of deliveries, Osborne recommended checking the website on Sundays, she said in an email last week.

During the first dose appointment, the technicians will schedule the second dose appointment then with the patient and that dose is guaranteed, Mark said.

Before now, the Port Townsend Safeway pharmacy and others such as QFC and Costco have been offering a limited number of vaccine doses from the state.

To find these vaccination sites, go to the state Department of Health website at Emergencies/COVID19/vaccine.