Metro Detroit pharmacy still waiting for vaccines through federal program

Posted at 4:58 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 12:50:27-05

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich (WXYZ) — On Thursday, February 11, pharmacies across the country were set to receive COVID 19 vaccines through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, an initiative put in place by the Biden administration to help reach their goal of 100 million shots in 100 days.

Rite Aid, Meijer, and Medicine Shoppe are among the few pharmacies in Michigan set to receive the vaccine.

"It’s kind of exciting to know I can contribute to this, I can contribute to my community,” said pharmacist Rawan Khader, who owns the lone Medicine Shoppe location in Metro Detroit at the corner of 17 and Ryan in Sterling Heights.

“We have it set up already to give the vaccine,” explained Khader. “I have hired a few extra technicians to get me rolling.”

In the corner of her small space in a Sterling Heights strip mall, she set up a chair and a curtain where she herself will administer the vaccine.

However, right now that chair sits empty. No appointments, and no vaccines.

"Where it is, when it’s coming, we don’t know,” Khader said.

The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program through the Federal Government was set to start today (Feb 11). Khader placed her order this week and was expecting the first shipment to arrive on Feb 11.

"Tuesday night I get an email saying 'your order was canceled, there’s no availability,'” Khader said. "It is frustrating because they ask us to fill out these applications and all the red tape we have to go through, and here I am excited to get them out there.”

Her customers are excited too. Right now her waiting list sits at more than 500 people and is still growing.

“I have been bombarded with calls," Khader said. "What I'm doing is taking people’s names, making sure that they are eligible to get it, and once I have it in hand I will start scheduling people.”

When she does get it, she’s hoping to do about 100 vaccinations a week. Some bigger pharmacies like Meijer are set to do 1,200 vaccines a day at each store.

“The more vaccines that we get, the faster we’re moving and the more people are getting vaccinated,” said Frank Guglielmi, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Meijer.

Since mid-January, Meijer has administered 20,000 vaccines. This week alone they will give out 25,000.

"The clinics have been very very efficient," Guglielmi said "We’re moving people through very quickly and very efficiently.”

About a third of Michigan’s Meijer stores offer the vaccine by appointment only. Their online database already has more than 1 million names on the waiting list.

Meanwhile, Khader will try to place an order again next week.

“Keep on trying," Khader said. "We’ll just stay after it until we get them in hand.”

Khader has owned her pharmacy for 25 years. She's hoping to give her longtime customers the opportunity to get the vaccine from someone they trust.

“These people rely on me, so they’re going to rely on me for this as well,” Khader said