Walmart, Sam's Club pharmacies to begin COVID-19 vaccines Friday

Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies across the nation will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines Friday as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

More than 1,000 pharmacies in 22 states will be receiving doses of the vaccine this week, although there is a particular "emphasis on locations that reach customers in underserved communities with limited access to health care," Walmart said on Wednesday.

The Arkansas-based retailer took into consideration population density, customer demographics, infection rates and availability of local health care resources when identifying the participating locations.

The company previously touted that it would be able to deliver up to 13 million doses of coronavirus vaccines per month "when supply and allocations allow."

FILE - Walmart pharmacy front counter view.

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Last November, federal health officials reached an agreement with pharmacies across the U.S., including big-box stores like Costco and Walmart, to distribute free vaccines after they become widely available to the public.

The agreement, which follows a collaboration with CVS and Walgreens to deliver vaccines to nursing homes, is part of an ongoing effort to make getting the COVID-19 vaccine like getting a flu shot.

"Ninety percent of the country lives within 10 miles of a Walmart," Dr. Cheryl Pegus, Walmart's executive vice president of health and wellness said. "We’re at the heart of many rural and underserved communities, and we are committed to providing access to vaccines as groups become eligible."

The retailer said it's working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the nearly two dozen states "to move as quickly as possible to help administer vaccines to eligible populations."

Although the company is working to increase the accessibility and availability of vaccines alongside the federal and state governments, supply and eligibility will still "vary based on allocation as well as state and local guidelines," Walmart said.

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Health care workers and nursing home residents had been first in line to receive either Pfizer or Moderna's vaccine. Next in line are essential workers such as grocery store clerks and others who perform vital jobs that can’t be done from home.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.