The Greeneville Walmart is not among those pharmacies for the retail chain that will be offering COVID-19 vaccines through the U.S. Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

However, that does not mean that vaccines will not be provided to the local Walmart store.

In a briefing Tuesday, Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said that Walmart was selected as the state’s sole preferred pharmacy partner for the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program due to the wide distribution of the chain’s stores within the state.

Piercey noted that not all Walmart stores in Tennessee would be included in the federal program. Those stores not participating, such as the Greeneville location, will be added to the list of community pharmacy vaccination sites that were designated a few weeks ago and receive doses from the state, the commissioner said.

That list includes several Walmarts across the state and in Greeneville and designates Atchley’s Pharmacy, Corley’s Pharmacy, Greene County Drug Store and Corley’s Pharmacy Solutions as vaccine sites.

These community sites and the remaining Walmarts will receive allocations from the state Department of Health from what it is provided by the federal government. It was not clear when the Walmart stores to be added to the list will receive their initial round of vaccines.

The vaccines distributed through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program are not part of Tennessee’s allocation and are in addition to what the state’s receives, Piercey has explained.

Increasing availability of vaccines comes as there has been a downward trend in new cases in Greene County, Northeast Tennessee and the state.

However, on Wednesday Greene County had one of its highest numbers of new cases in a few weeks as 72 were reported in the daily update from the Tennessee Department of Health.

One new death attributed to the virus was also reported for the county in the update, bringing the local death toll from COVID-19 to 137.

There were 193 people with active cases of the illness in Greene County on Wednesday. Since the pandemic began, 7,118 people have contracted COVID-19 locally, according to state data.

One additional person from the county has been hospitalized for treatment of the virus, according to the Department of Health update. Since last March, 166 people locally have required hospital treatment for the illness.

Ballad Health reported that it had 103 COVID-19 patients within its hospitals on Wednesday with one person admitted with symptoms awaiting test results. Twenty of the coronavirus patients are in intensive care units with 12 patients on ventilators.

The positive rate for the region, how many people have positive results among those tested, also continues a downward trend that started a few weeks ago. For the past seven days, the positive rate has been 14.8% for the region, according to Ballad Health. Greene County’s positive rate for the past seven days was 9.1%, data from the Department of Health indicates.

VACCINE DISTRIBUTION

In addition to Tennessee, Walmart will be the sole preferred pharmacy partner in the federal program in six other states, according to a release from the retail chain. In addition to Walmart stores, some Sam’s Club locations are also designated as vaccination sites in Tennessee.

According to the chain’s website, the two Walmart stores in Johnson City, the three in Kingsport and two in Morristown as well as the Sam’s Club in Johnson City are sites in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program and vaccinations will be available starting Friday.

Distribution of vaccines will be based on state guidelines, according to Walmart. The number of vaccinations will be limited in the federal program, but is planned to continue to increase each week.

According to a Walmart representative, individuals eligible to receive vaccines are to schedule appointments using the online scheduler on the Walmart website regardless of whether the store is receiving federal or state allocations.

Those eligible for vaccinations in Greene County, according to the state, are individuals 70 years of age and over, frontline health providers or those who work in health care or K-12 education and childcare.

Vaccines also continue to be provided through the Health Department at the former Greene Valley Developmental Center campus on East Andrew Johnson Highway.

Appointments are required for a vaccination at that site. People are encouraged to arrive at their appointed time and not park along the highway prior to gates opening at 8:30 a.m. Appointments can be made at the covid19.tn.gov website or by calling 866-442-5301.

According to the state Department of Health, 11,306 vaccines had been administered in the county through Wednesday. A total of 876,342 vaccines have been administered in Tennessee, according to the state.

COVID-19 TESTING

COVID-19 tests are being administered by the Greene County Health Department from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Monday-Friday at the office on West Church St. No appointment is necessary. Self-test kits are available on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the site with the nasal swab tests administered on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

COVID-19 testing is also available from CVS and Ballad Health.

Free self-swab tests are now available at the CVS Pharmacy locations on the Asheville Highway and East Andrew Johnson Highway for those who meet Centers for Disease Control qualifications. An appointment is required and can be made at CVS.com.

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