Health & Wellness
Walmart’s Health & Wellness Practice administers vaccines and other offerings, collaborating with and providing resources to community partners who can communicate about health issues. Why does this build trustworthiness? The practice works with local organizations and leaders who are trusted figures in their communities to build trust in the COVID-19 vaccine and other preventive health measures.
How It Works
By leaning on local leaders who already have deep reservoirs of goodwill in their communities and organizations that are the building blocks of the neighborhoods in which we operate, Walmart Health & Wellness is empowering the people who already have the confidence of the patients we serve. Our Health & Wellness practice administers vaccines and other offerings, but we also serve as a source of information for our partners, who then arm the real leaders in each community with the tools they need to communicate and build trust.
Skills and Competencies
Walmart has more than 4,700 pharmacies across the country, with nearly 4,000 in Medically Underserved, HRSA certified areas. We have committed to providing COVID-19 vaccines in MU communities and have used the Social Vulnerability Index to identify the highest risk communities. Understanding that vaccine hesitancy and trust is best resolved by having local trusted leaders be spokespersons, we have engaged with community-based nonprofits, local elected officials and faith-based organizations in order to listen and partner, allowing us to establish new relationships and deepen existing Walmart relationships in each community. Earlier this year, the City of Chicago partnered with Walmart to assist with COVID-19 vaccinations in two traditionally underserved communities on the West and South Sides of Chicago. By collaborating with local aldermen and community leaders, Walmart set up community vaccination events using dedicated phone lines, which allowed residents to easily schedule vaccine appointments, resulting in the administration of nearly 6,000 doses over a 10-day period across eight stores.
As of April 9, Walmart and Sam’s Club are administering COVID-19 vaccines in 49 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, DC at more than 5,100 locations, in collaboration with a wide spectrum of health and community partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccine manufacturers, state and local public health authorities, community groups and elected officials. To date, we have held more than 60 dedicated community events in the most medically underserved areas of the country. Our vaccine awareness campaigns are in English and Spanish, some in partnership with the Ad Council to target vulnerable communities that have high vaccine hesitancy.
Walmart trained all 33,000 Walmart licensed pharmacists and more than 5,600 technicians to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. Pharmacy associates were required to complete a six-part COVID-19 vaccine education program of materials and videos, which include courses on: how to combat vaccine hesitancy, new vaccine technology, the basics of immunizations, and how to respond to adverse reactions. The operational team hosted open forums for leadership, pharmacists and technicians to ask questions about vaccine workflow and clinical vaccine issues to ensure consistency. Our vaccine ambassadors across the Walmart organization represent the communities we serve and are able to gain trust and provide cultural concordance.
Walmart has nearly 4,000 locations located within communities that are designated as Medically Underserved Areas. There are 16,511 Medically Underserved Areas designated by HRSA. In many of those locations, Walmart is the only pharmacy option, making Walmart’s clinical services, including vaccine administration efforts in these regions critical. Walmart is coordinating closely with the federal government to ensure immunization availability and ensure equitable access.
Walmart’s path to developing community partnerships for vaccine access has built upon our existing community support. The company started a dialogue with vaccine manufacturers to explore the safety and efficacy of vaccine candidates proactively, so that Walmart team members (specifically pharmacists and pharmacy technicians) would be comfortable with administering the vaccine and could provide support for customers in their own communities. We also provided information to communities that was health literate and culturally appropriate, so communities were kept abreast of updates about vaccines.
The underlying theme of Walmart’s community partnerships for vaccine trust and access is meeting individuals and communities where they are: communicating through known, trusted voices; ensuring that tech literacy is not a requirement for access; and providing appointment options in easy-to-access locations.
Today more than 5,100 of Walmart’s pharmacies are active and distributing vaccines daily through pharmacies and using our partnership engagement model, our easy to access education available in English and Spanish, our online scheduler and our use of telephonic support to book appointments as needed. Combined with Walmart’s ability to mobilize quickly and serve large numbers of patients across the country, the company’s partnerships with community organizations, payers and local officials have helped provide vaccine access to some of those most vulnerable to COVID-19. For example, a community event in Mobile, Ala., reached 200 community members in one day, 60% of whom were African American.