I Like Your Background Video Transcript
So to get us started, let’s turn the presentation over to Chris Cox. Chris is the senior vice president of Pharmacy at CVS Health. And his session titled “I Like Your Background” will give us the status of the COVID-19 vaccinations and what it means for returning to the workplace.
Chris, just so you know, I scheduled my vaccine for this Friday. Take it away.
Excellent, Patrick, and thank you so much. And I didn’t realize when you guys invited me to this that I was following up the Chief Fun Officer. So a lot of pressure on this.
And as it relates to “I Like Your Background,” you know, I don’t have one of those really cool virtual backgrounds that a lot of the bswift team has. But I will say one of my highlights of the pandemic was I gave an interview actually on, you know, our COVID vaccine preparations. And there is a Twitter account many of you might know it. It’s called Rate My Skype Background. And it’s become like this pandemic trend. They actually rate people’s backgrounds when they’re, you know, working from home and giving interviews or what have you. And I got a 10 out of 10.
Of course they lost a lot of credibility with me when they applauded my bold choice of orange paint in my room. And I’m sure you can all tell that it’s actually a red room. And it was because the lighting was so bad early in the morning that it actually looked orange.
So, well thank you again to the bswift team for having me. As Patrick said, my name is Chris Cox. I help lead the Retail Pharmacy business at CVS and have been honored and humbled to, you know, help lead our efforts as it relates to our COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
Really beginning last May when we started a dialogue with the CDC in Operation Warp Speed about the role that retail pharmacy can play both early on in long-term care with, you know, some of the most vulnerable populations and then, you know, leading into more recently, you know, in our retail pharmacies.
So if we could advance one slide, what I would thought we would start with is just a quick state of the state in terms of how the US is doing overall, what some of the recent trends have been and then, you know, we can dive in a little bit later into, you know, some specifics around our CVS effort and our experience that we’ve created around the COVID-19 vaccination.
So, you know, as we sit here today and this data is, you know, three days old, so pretty up to date, you can see that the US has been on a pretty rapid pace of administration of the vaccine. Up to now, about 40% of the population has received at least their initial dose and a full 1/4 of the population is at this point now fully vaccinated.
And of course, you know, with the current EUA, only people, you know, 16 or older are actually eligible at this point in time. But to be at 1/4 of the total population is really impressive especially considering – and you can see it on the slide that there was a little bit of a slower ramp, you know, through January as supply became more plentiful. And then, you know, we’ve really been on, what I would call, a very rapid pace over the last, you know, month, month and a half.
And as you look at these projections out — and again this comes from The New York Times — you can see that if we continue on the current pace, you know, and demand stays, you know, really high and you have people, you know, continuing to want to get the vaccine, you know, you would have up to 70% of the US population vaccinated by mid-June and a full 90% here, you know, before we get into August.
Now what we’ve started to see a little bit recently is that in certain pockets of the country, you know, our appointments are taking longer to fill up and it actually, I would say, matches very closely to what you see on this map on the left-hand side of this page where, you know, the darker the teal color that you see means that, you know, a higher percentage of residents have been given at least one shot.
And so, you know, as we look at, you know, the appointments that we make live in any given week, you know, for this most recent week, we have seen, for example, that, you know, in these northeast states and in places like Wisconsin and Minnesota and Colorado and California, our appointments are continuing to sell out, you know, really, really quickly.
And on the flipside, as you look at some of the lighter teal states, you know, down in the deep south, Louisiana, Mississippi, you know, we still have appointments available, you know, on our Web site today that have been live for several days.
So you are starting to see, as we get into, you know, kind of, you know, 1/4 to 1/3 of the population vaccinated, different pockets of demand starts to slow down as we reach different populations who may, you know, display a bit more vaccine hesitancy, which I think is a good segue actually to the next slide that I wanted to cover which was just a little bit of an overview of what’s going on with the Johnson & Johnson or the Janssen vaccine.
So as of April 12th, you know, almost 7 million doses of this vaccine, you know, have been administered. And, you know, most of you likely know unlike the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines, this is a single dose. And there were some instances of a very rare side effect called CVST which is a certain type of blood clot that was also showing up with a low platelet count. And it was higher in terms of the rates that they were seeing than they would have expected based off of the clinical trial. And that’s why they ultimately decided to pause administration of this vaccine while they continue to review the data and also understanding that this particular side effect was showing up, you know, about two to three weeks post vaccination.
And, you know, of these 7 million doses that had been given, about half of them had really been given in a week, week and a half prior to the pause that was started last week. So, you know, I think it was out of an abundance of caution that, you know, the FDA and the CDC decided to, you know, to put this pause on J&J to continue to evaluate this data and just understand, you know, if there were, you know, a significant risk to the population out there.
Now what I’ll tell you – and again I should caveat that I’m not a clinician by training. But what I’ll tell you is that this is obviously still a very rare side effect, right? If you think about 7 million doses being administered, seven cases identified, you’re still talking about 1 in 1 million. And I believe, you know, if you think about where we are in the administration of the vaccine, we have, you know, two very good vaccines that are available and more plentiful supply than they were.
And with the pace that the country has been on, you know, you can just imagine that it was in the better part of prudent to just take a pause and ensure that there was nothing here that was being missed before, you know, deciding whether or not to continue on with vaccinating with the J&J vaccine.
At this point, we don’t have an answer yet on, you know, whether or not vaccinations will continue. But for those of you following the headlines closely, the European Union this morning just decided to green light the continued use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine which basically what you would consider just a warning associated with it and some education to the patients who would receive it around this, you know, extremely rare side effect but what to look for, you know, over the couple of weeks post administration to ensure that it’s not something that, you know, may impact you.
The other, you know, thing that I think is very prudent about this too is by getting the word out there, you know, these side effects can be appropriately treated if it’s recognized, you know, in the right way. So I think that, you know, this is allowing for, you know, clinicians across the country to understand what is being seen, understand the treatment protocols for it. And so assuming that, you know, there is a green light on the continued use of the vaccine, which we will find out hopefully Friday when the ATIP committee, you know, meets for the second time, you know, I think that there will be better awareness and treatment of this potential side effect.
On, you know, on the other hand though, and this is something, you know, that I don’t have a slide on, we have been doing some consumer research on the impact of this pause on vaccine hesitancy. And we are seeing at least indications that for the unvaccinated population, you know, there are about, you know, anywhere between 1/3 to 1/2 of that population saying that, you know, this pause is going to – and Johnson & Johnson is going to make them, you know, potentially a little bit less likely to get the vaccine which is ultimately not a great outcome. Obviously, you know, with this vaccine, you know, we want to ensure that everyone is safe, you know, from a potentially dangerous side effect.
But at the same time, you know, the, you know, getting to herd immunity will require, you know, a significant portion of the United States population to get vaccinated. So we want to make sure that we continue to get the right messaging and the right education to folks around the various options around the vaccine and, you know, ensure that we continue to address vaccine hesitancy so that, as I mentioned on the prior slide, we don’t start to see, you know, demand dropping before we reach, you know, those really high levels of vaccination.
So with that, you know, I’d like to transition a bit to talk about, you know, our efforts at CVS around vaccinating, you know, our population and how that’s been going so far and what we’ve been experiencing. So if we can just flip over to the next slide.
So for those of you who aren’t as familiar with CVS pharmacy in terms of our footprint, you know, we have about 9900 locations nationwide and about 85% to 86% of the entire US population lives within 10 miles of a CVS pharmacy. And as you bring that even closer, it’s still around 76% of the US population lives within 5 miles of a CVS pharmacy. So, you know, we do have this footprint that is very accessible to people all across the country.
And I would say and I’ll come back to this point, you know, later on in my presentation that footprint is also well distributed across, you know, different demographics and different, what we would call, social vulnerability geographies.
So the CDC has an index that they call the Social Vulnerability Index. It actually takes into account things like education levels, income levels, you know, race and ethnicity. And it basically assigns a social vulnerability for – to each individual county across the country.
And as we look at our retail pharmacy locations, we are basically equally distributed across low social vulnerability, medium social vulnerability, high and very high. So we have, you know, good access points to, you know, a broad swath of the population.
We also have, you know, up to 50,000 of our frontline healthcare workers who are, you know, able to give immunizations as it relates to, you know, the actual regulations. So our pharmacists, our nurse practitioners in our MinuteClinic, our physician assistants in our MinuteClinic have been, you know, immunizing in our retail locations, you know, for decades.
And in select states, even before this pandemic, pharmacy technicians were permitted to immunize and as part of the legislation to enable, you know, better access to the vaccine, you know, the federal government actually expanded that allowance across, you know, the entire country so that pharmacy technicians are able to now administer the COVID-19 vaccine which opened up a huge additional population for us to train and get ready so that we could ensure that we were, you know, really able to meet the very high demand.
And then additionally in this, you know, we can flip to the next slide, you know, our retail pharmacy locations, you know, have significant experience in giving different vaccinations. And flu, you know, the influenza vaccine is obviously the biggest kind of demand that we see in the retail pharmacy environment. But we do have experience with, you know, all these other vaccines that you see on this page to the tune of about 20 million total vaccines were given by CVS Pharmacy, you know, just last year alone. And that was before our efforts with the COVID-19 vaccine began. So a lot of experience, a lot of capabilities. And, you know, we were excited and honored to really be able to play a part in, you know, the COVID-19 vaccination effort.
So let me tell you a little bit more about what that looks like if we flip to the next slide.
So we announced about two weeks ago that we had crossed the 10-million vaccination threshold in terms of the number that we had given both in, you know, nursing homes as well as our retail stores. Now that number unfortunately the lawyers won’t let me share a more up-to-date number with you because that’s our latest public number but again about two weeks ago we’ve been continuing to immunize at a very rapid pace in our retail stores and suspects that we’ll be putting out, you know, some updated numbers pretty soon.
I’ll tell you, you know, when the COVID vaccine effort first began, there were a lot of questions, there were a lot of, you know, candidly media coverage out there about, you know, the various vaccines and the different cold handling requirements of them and, you know, would pharmacies be able to handle the Pfizer vaccine, for example, and I will tell you since December when we first started vaccinating in nursing homes, we have been handling all of the vaccines that have been approved.
So the Pfizer vaccine we are able to store it at ultra cold storage, you know, within the shippers that it comes in for, you know, a few weeks. And then that vaccine is also, you know, good in a refrigerator for an additional five days. And Pfizer continues to, you know, kind of expand their stability studies on the vaccine. And now at this point there’s also a two-week set in the standard freezer that the Pfizer vaccine can, you know, be stored and stay stable.
We have, you know, across our chain, as I mentioned on the slide before, those 9900 locations. And if — and this is, you know, a big if because it’s not the reality today — if we have the supply given to us to be able to stand up all of those locations, you know, at our maximum capacity, you know, we would be able to deliver about 25 million of, you know, COVID-19 vaccines each and every month. And that’s really a function of the model that we’ve stood up around a lot of the pharmacies that we’ve brought live to date.
And as you think about your experience, if you’ve, you know, been someone who’s gotten a flu shot at CVS or another retail pharmacy in the past, what we set up for the COVID-19 vaccine is actually very different. So if you think about flu, you walk into the pharmacy, you go to the check-in and say, “Hey, I’d love to get my flu shot today,” they data enter you into the system and then you have to wait for a pharmacist, you know, to actually be able to take a break from what they’re doing filling prescriptions and come around to administer the vaccine.
For COVID we’ve actually set up what we call dedicated in-store clinic where we have one or two immunizers actually dedicated only to providing the shot. And they’re actually outside of the pharmacy locations. And that has enabled this, you know, this significant capacity that I mentioned. And it also, you know, it also gets to the throughput rate.
So we have been administering basically every dose that, you know, that were sent within about a five- to seven-day period. So, you know, we can – we send, you know, and you think about Pfizer just as one example, right? So the minimum shipment quantity of the Pfizer vaccine today is about 1200 doses. And because of those storage requirements I mentioned, we don’t typically spread it out across multiple stores. We keep it in the store where it was shipped to. And we can administer all 1200 of those doses in a single location, you know, in that five- to seven-day time frame just based off this really, you know, high-touch dedicated, you know, clinic experience.
And I’ll walk you through a little bit more of what that looks like because, you know, we’ve got an unbelievable, you know, customer satisfaction scores around it and think that we’ve really created a differentiated experience. So, Patrick, when you go for your shot on Friday, you know, hope you have a wonderful experience at your local CVS.
The other thing, you know, that we were, you know, really planful about as we went into this effort and it was really based off of a lot of learnings we had from setting up a significant COVID testing, you know, business is, you know, that we needed a very stable digital registration site because with the demand that we saw both for testing and that we anticipated for vaccines — in fact we anticipated vaccines would be even higher — we knew that, you know, system stability was going to be of the utmost importance.
And at our peak, you know, we’ve seen, you know, our system able to schedule about, you know, 2000 or so doses each minute. We’ve never had any issues from a stability perspective that have brought down our appointment scheduler. And again, you know, we’ve heard a lot of horror stories for both state sites and others, you know, out there where, you know, their sites have crashed and, you know, feel really good about the prep work we’ve put into ensuring we had a very stable, you know, stable environment.
And same thing on the phones, right? So we knew that, you know, our call centers would get a lot of inbound volume and, you know, we’ve been able to, you know, go through on artificial intelligence but as well as, you know, significant staffing up, you know, been able to maintain, you know, very high service levels, average, you know, average speed to answers, you know, under 10 seconds throughout our vaccination efforts to be able to handle helping people who don’t have access to that digital scheduler on their own to be able to, you know, talk to a live person to actually be able to schedule those appointments.
So again, you know, proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish both from an operational stability perspective but then also from, you know, clearly a public health perspective, you know, being able to say that, you know, at this point we’ve administered, you know, double-digit millions of vaccines. It truly is an honor to be able to help the country, you know, in its return to normalcy.
So if we could go to the next slide real quick. So wanted to just demonstrate, you know, where, you know, where we are actively administering the vaccine. And as of today, we’re in all – we’re in 49 states as well as Washington DC and Puerto Rico. And basically the lone state that, you know, we’re hoping to activate soon is New Hampshire where we aren’t currently vaccinating today.
We, you know, as I mentioned before, our model has primarily been this very, you know, high touch, high throughput, dedicated clinic model. So of our 9900 stores, you know, we only had about 1/4 of them actually vaccinating up until very recently.
And what we’ve done recently to help meet President Biden’s goal of having, you know, every US citizen within, you know, 5 miles of a – of an activated pharmacy is we’ve taken about 2000 additional stores and there’ll be another 1500 added by the end of this week and we’ve put in some of the Moderna vaccines where we are vaccinating and more of that traditional out-of-workflow model rather than in those dedicated clinics. And in those stores we can, you know, handle about 20 vaccinations per day versus, you know, the several hundred that I mentioned in the dedicated clinic model.
So it’s very much a mix of these very, you know, kind of high throughput, you know, dedicated clinics as well as, you know, a broader set of stores that we’ve activated from an access point perspective that are doing, you know, a lower volume.
The color coding, just for everyone’s edification on this page, you know, our primary source of vaccine has come through the federal retail pharmacy partnership. And that is, you know, about 21 larger chain pharmacy, you know, ourselves, Walgreens, Walmart, you know, Rite Aid and then many of the large grocers as well, you know, have this agreement with the federal government where we’re getting a direct federal allocation of the vaccine.
And then the states also, you know, since the beginning of the vaccination effort have received their own dedicated allocations from the federal government. And through some of those states, you know, we have also activated, you know, additional CVS pharmacies as they’ve come to us to say, “Hey, you know, could you help us, you know, bring forward an access point in this particular geography?” or “Do you have additional, you know, throughput capabilities that, you know, you could help us with our vaccine efforts?” So you can see those kind of blue and yellow states are where, you know, we’re both receiving federal allocation as well as state allocation.
So as we flip forward, you know, and I mentioned the stability of our digital site but wanted to walk all of you on, you know, on the conference today through the experience that you would go through on CVS.com or on the CVS app if you were to look for a dose, you know, with us.
So if you got to the CVS landing page, the first thing that you would see, which isn’t on this particular screen, is, you know, a state by state view of where we’re actually vaccinating. And you could literally click on the particular state where you’re located and you could see every town where we have active, you know, active vaccination sites and you’d be able to see right there from that, you know, front page whether the locations in those towns are fully booked or whether they have continued availability.
And we really think that that’s a great differentiator for us in terms of being able to provide people that visibility right upfront before they really have to go into any in-depth scheduling flow.
The other thing that I will mention, you know, just real quick is that, you know, our vaccine scheduling tool does not require you to have any sort of, you know, account with us. It’s open, you know, likewise to people who are registered on CVS.com but also to anyone, you know, who we would consider just the guests as well.
So, you know, the first thing we do – you can see on this page is we actually educate, you know, patients particularly around Pfizer and Moderna that those vaccines are two-dose vaccines. So you’re going to need to get two appointments. Right now because of the J&J pause, those are the only two vaccines you can schedule with us. So every appointment is this, you know, two-dose series. And then you will receive a series of, you know, e-mail and SMS confirmations and reminders just to ensure that you’re able to come.
You’re able to check in from your device when you get into the parking lot and this will actually speed up the in-store process so that you don’t have to check in at the pharmacy. And then we do give you your – both your CDC vaccination card as well as a record e-mail for both your first and second dose.
And then for us, another key point that we’ve really wanted to focus on was ensuring that folks are compliant for that second dose, you know, of the vaccine because in order to get the results from the clinical studies to be matched in terms of your own immunity, you know, you can only do that if you complete the series in full.
So to date, you know, we have been, you know, getting a second dose completion rate in the mid-90s which actually exceeds, you know, what CDC has done from a national benchmark by about 6% or 7%. So we’re excited about, you know, what we’ve been able to do there from a compliance perspective.
So in the next page, what you can see then is, you know, from our digital experience, you know, if we can flip forward. All right. You know, that, you know – and I mentioned this, sorry. Got ahead of myself a bit. You know, we’re currently at about 95%, you know, second dose completion rate.
And the other thing I will mention is, you know, we, you know, are definitely following the recommendations on the timing for the second dose from the EUAs. So our goal for the Pfizer vaccine is to get people in at, you know, 21 days, for the Moderna vaccine, you know, at 28 days. And we’ve got about a, you know, 99% rate of getting people, you know, within kind of a three-day window around those full dates for that second dose. So again not just getting them in for, you know, completing it but getting them in at the right time as at least demonstrated by the existing clinical trials.
And the other thing we do, you know, if someone were to miss an appointment is we have a pharmacist reach out to them, you know, really quickly on the heels of it, you know, be a live outbound call to ensure that, you know, we’re able to hopefully — especially if it’s that second dose — get them in, you know, really close to that targeted window so that they’re able to complete it in a timely fashion.
And so now as we flip forward, you know, can talk a little bit, you know, about then the in-store experience. And I, you know, I talked about this dedicated clinic model that is a bit different from what you would experience, you know, from a typical flu shot. And that’s really what is, you know, demonstrated on the page here.
So we actually have right as you enter the store we’ve got a greeter. And they’re right by that entry bubble that you see on the left-hand side where we’ll actually have a table set up where you can come in and say, “Hey, look, I already checked in for my vaccine appointment,” and show that to our greeter or say, “I don’t have a digital device. I need to check in,” and they’re able to do that for you there.
And then we have, you know, spacing along, you know, the outside wall of the store there where, you know, folks are able to queue up with an appropriate social distance. And then we’ve got a dedicated vaccine area and a dedicated observation area, you know, with, you know, employees there all the time to ensure that we’re able to monitor folks for those 15 minutes, you know, once they’ve actually received the vaccination.
So when, you know, the thing that I’ll highlight here is we have been, you know, getting about a Net Promoter Score of over 90% on our in-store and digital experience for the COVID-19 vaccine which for those of you who have any background kind of measuring customer experience is an extraordinarily high score and something that we honestly have never, you know, experienced in any other part of our operations.
So, you know, we think from our digital experience for the in-store experience we’ve created, you know, it’s really a seamless, high touch, you know, easy but also safe and feels, you know, very much like a highly clinical focused operation and, you know, our customers have really recognized us for that and it’s been, you know, another differentiator for us, you know, as we roll this out across the country.
So flipping to the next slide. You know, I mentioned earlier and, you know, especially as we think through, you know, what we’re going to see from the vaccine hesitancy perspective on the heels of, you know, the J&J pause. You know, we’ve really been taking a multipronged approach to ensuring that we’re getting the right information, you know, to all of our enterprise patients, right?
So not just CVS pharmacy but also, you know, our Aetna, our CVS Caremark, our bswift clients, you know, ensure that we’re able to get educational materials, informational materials out to them, you know, through all of our various teams and then also, you know, ensuring that even the stores that we select to turn on are those that are, you know, nearest to the largest populations and also, you know, the largest populations of need, right, because certainly COVID has impacted various communities harder than it has impacted others.
And so as we’ve brought, you know, many of our stores online, you know, that’s been a big focus for us ensuring that we’re getting them, you know, live in those communities that have been disproportionately impacted.
And then the final thing I’ll mention here and this is, you know, kind of core to who we are, what we do is, you know, building on the trust that we have with our patients. So nearly 5 million people every day walk into a CVS pharmacy location. They have relationships with us. They, you know, expect our pharmacists and Pharmacy Care teams, you know, to take care of their families, to fill their medications as needed, to give them, you know, the proper advice, to give them other vaccinations.
And so really, you know, as you think about who can help to address vaccine hesitancy, you know, in the studies that we’ve done, it really is local trusted health care partners that people cite, right? It’s not, you know, it’s not a social media influencer. It’s not a politician. It’s, hey, it’s my doctor or it’s my pharmacist who I’m likely to listen to.
And, you know, with all of those access points that I mentioned earlier with 10,000 or so locations across the country, pharmacists who know those communities, many times pharmacists who grew up in those communities, you know, it’s been, you know, a great opportunity for us to really bring that message forward around, you know, the importance and the safety of these various vaccines.
Okay, so flipping forward. I did want to build on, you know, what I just mentioned around, you know, those communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID or communities that have been, you know, historically underserved from a healthcare perspective.
So not only in terms of our store selection, which has been a big area of focus for us, but also several key partnerships that we’ve launched nationally to help, you know, enable, you know, additional sites. So we’ve actually got a partnership with the YMCA where we’re doing, you know, regular ongoing clinics a handful of their sites.
We’ve got about 11 COVID testing locations that we split up in partnership with Health and Human Services in various communities of need where we have now also brought the vaccination forward.
And then we’ve got a partnership with Lyft where, you know, for folks who are unable to, you know, get transportation on their own to a site we’re able to either bring them to one of our CVS retail pharmacies or to one of these community testing sites that, you know, that we highlight on this page.
So, you know, it’s been a – it’s been again, you know, this whole effort has been, you know, humbling. And certainly, you know, being able to serve the underserved has been a big focus for us.
And as you flip to the next slide, you know, we’re very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, you know, from that perspective. So as we look at, you know, our vaccination rates, you know, and this was, you know, this was for a snapshot in time of early March but, you know, it’s actually held very true throughout our vaccination campaigns.
You know, about 32% of our patients were what you would call – what you would categorize as underrepresented minorities. And underrepresented minorities include black Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans. And, you know, those are historically, you know, three groups within the broader population that, you know, have had disproportionate, you know, in access to healthcare.
And as you look at, you know, our results here, you know, especially for this snapshot in the early March when we were primarily vaccinating a senior population based on eligibility criteria, that 32% was actually about 7-1/2% higher than the underrepresented minorities in, you know, represented amongst the senior population in the states, you know, where we were vaccinating.
And as you look at, you know, the US efforts, you know, only about 20% across the entire country of people vaccinated and that’s, you know, this number is a little bit older than the latest and greatest. But, you know, when we were comparing our 32%, it was against about a 20% nationally.
And again, you know, really focused on our store selection criteria, you know, bringing up locations of access, you know, in communities of need and also those key partnerships that I mentioned on the prior page.
So with that, I wanted to transition to a couple of final topics just around, you know, how businesses can be thinking about, you know, vaccination efforts and what role, you know, CVS could help you with in those efforts.
And we do have, you know, a product that, you know, is called “Return Ready.” It actually started as a product that actually allowed businesses to bring, you know, our COVID testing capabilities to bear for their employees and now is something that we’ve been able to expand into the vaccination efforts as well. And, you know, the – there are a few requirements here in terms of, you know, we need a minimum of about 1000 individuals, you know, across your various sites to be able to vaccinate. And, you know, we are then able to dedicate hours and staffing for onsite clinics at work sites for, you know, for populations that meet these particular criteria.
And as you think about, you know, where we are now in the vaccination effort, you know, just this past Monday, you know, all of the states that hadn’t, you know, made their entire adult populations eligible, you know, did that. So we are now at a point in time where basically everyone 16 and above across the country is eligible to receive the vaccine. So, you know, every business site, you know, now has the ability to get all of their employees vaccinated.
And, you know, there is – this is one, you know, one potential offering that you could leverage if you’re interested and able to meet some of the, you know, total numbers of people so that, you know, our dedicated immunizers, you know, were able to make the best use of their time and get the most shots in arm.
Otherwise, you know, we are able to work with you on, you know, getting people into our in-store environment, you know, if a clinic of this size wouldn’t be applicable to your particular location.
The other thing I wanted to comment on before, you know, we wrap up and move on to Q&A was just a little bit around vaccination requirements, right? And so as you think about, you know, what many employers have done up to this point in the vaccination stage, it’s largely been, you know, encouraging as many of their population as possible to get vaccinated and a lot of that, you know, is due to the fact that these vaccinations are currently under EUA rather than full FDA approval.
But we do expect, you know, over the coming months that, you know, these vaccines will likely achieve full FDA approval rather than just EUA status. At which point it will become, you know, a question that employers will have to grapple with around whether or not they want to make this something that they require their employees to do or, you know, whether or not they want to make it more of something they encourage their employees to do.
Obviously there’s a lot of considerations that go into that. You’ve got, you know, certainly different pockets of the population who, you know, would push back very strongly on a requirement. You’ve got different geographies where that, you know, could be looked upon either favorably or unfavorably.
But on the flipside, you know, you’ve got the potential that, you know, for or employers, you know, particularly as you think about the retail segment or hospitality where that could be something that is actually appealing to the customer base to be able to know that, you know, if I go in here, I know that all employees are vaccinated.
So, you know, what I’ll tell you is at this point, you know, CVS’s stance for our own employees has been, you know, one of encouragement, not one of requirements. But it’s something that I would encourage, you know, folks on this call in particular to think about as we move forward because it is likely to pick up more steam as a debate as more and more of the population gets vaccinated. And as I mentioned that FDA is able to, you know, move on to full approval.
And then real quick I know I mentioned that was my last topic but I did want to hit one more thing because I expect it will come up in the Q&A if I don’t talk about it which is boosters, right? So the reality here is that, you know, we are in a race in many ways against the variants, right? And I know many of you have likely, you know, read all about, you know, the different variants that have, you know, started in different parts of the world and some of them seem to be, you know, a little bit more – have a little bit more, you know, less capability from the vaccines. Some of them have, you know, are treated well by the vaccine but have a higher transmissibility rate than the original strain of COVID.
And so, you know, as we think about both that dynamic as well as the dynamic of not yet fully understanding just because the science isn’t mature enough yet the length of time that your original vaccination will, you know, infer immunity to you, boosters are very likely, you know, to be a part of our near-term future.
And what we see today is we see the various manufacturers testing boosters anywhere between six months post original vaccine to one year. And so what we’re anticipating, and again nothing is final at this point, but we are anticipating that there will likely be booster campaigns, you know, at about 12 months after initial vaccine and that it’s possible depending on how the science evolves that, you know, the COVID vaccine at least for the next several years, as I mentioned, until the science is fully mature could become more of an annual event like the flu shot.
And it could be, you know, again just to continue the immunity or it could be because, you know, variants are continuing to evolve and there’s a need to kind of slightly tweak the vaccines to be able to, you know, address those different variants or, you know, quite frankly most likely could be a combination of both of those factors. You’re being able to stay ahead of the variants and also be able to, you know, kind of confer, you know, additional months of immunity.
So, you know, while it’s exciting that the US is on the pace that it’s at, well I think we all hold a lot of hope that, you know, that this summer things will feel a little bit more normal for all of us. I don’t think, you know, that it’s likely that we’re going to be able to say that, you know, COVID has been completely eradicated and that it’s likely that we’re going to need to continue, you know, with certain protocols around ongoing vaccination at least for a few years as the science continues to evolve.