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CVS and Walgreens begin COVID-19 vaccinations in California: What you need to know

Vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in a refrigerator
Doses of the Moderna vaccine await patients in Riverside in early February.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

COVID-19 vaccines are available at some CVS pharmacies in California for those currently eligible in their county.

The initial allocation to CVS was 250,000 doses, part of a partnership with the federal government. About 81,900 of those doses were set to go to California CVS pharmacies, to be administered in approximately 100 stores, possibly including the pharmacies inside Target stores. This week, they expect 570,000 doses, which CVS says is consistent with the Biden administration’s announcement earlier this week that vaccine supply to pharmacy partners will soon be doubling.

In Southern California, locations will include the following, among others:

  • Agoura Hills
  • Carlsbad
  • Chula Vista
  • Huntington Beach
  • Irvine
  • Los Angeles
  • Newport Beach
  • San Diego

Appointments are required. Those can be made through CVS.com or through the CVS Pharmacy smartphone app. Those without internet access can call (800) 746-7287. CVS asks people not to contact individual pharmacies.

If it’s your first dose, you’ll schedule appointments for your first and second dose at the same time. You’ll receive a vaccination card that notes which vaccine you received and when you need to return. The pharmacy will also keep track of which dose you receive so you get the same second dose.

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Appointments will probably fill up quickly, but new appointments will be added daily, CVS said.

Each pharmacy will receive only Pfizer or Moderna based on availability. But after more pharmacies are able to offer the vaccine, patients will be able to see the type of vaccine each pharmacy offers before making an appointment.

When you arrive for your appointment, staffers will ask for an insurance card, valid Social Security number, driver’s license or state ID number. The CVS website says that the vaccine will not cost you anything, but CVS will bill your insurance or the federal government for reimbursement.

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CVS says its goal is to offer vaccines in nearly all of its 9,900 pharmacies once there is enough supply.

Walgreens and other pharmacies

This week, Walgreens announced it’ll be receiving an initial allotment of 49,140 COVID-19 vaccinations in California as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

Walgreens had been administering a limited supply of vaccinations in stores in Riverside, Contra Costa and Placer counties. Now vaccines will be available in Los Angeles, Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Appointments can be made through Walgreens’ scheduler at Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine or through their phone scheduler, which is available in English and Spanish at 1-800-Walgreens.

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You’ll need to make a Walgreens pharmacy account and complete a short screening. You’ll be able to schedule appointments for both doses at the same time.

You can also sign up to receive alerts about available vaccine appointments.

There are also limited vaccine doses available at other pharmacies, including Vons, Albertsons, Costco and Ralphs (a subsidiary of Kroger).

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Rite Aid says its pharmacies are prepared to administer the vaccine but haven’t received any doses yet.

Walmart is distributing vaccines in some states, but doesn’t have plans to do so in California.

Check each pharmacy’s website for the latest information on vaccine supply and how to schedule an appointment.

The second shot of the COVID vaccine does not need to happen precisely 21 or 28 days after the first to be effective.

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