This is a huge shot in the arm for the Tri-State, as the Walmart here on Evansville's east side has officially joined the Coronavirus vaccination battle.
"At this moment, it's finally come to fruition."
The race to vaccinate has picked up a powerful partner, with Walmart's Coronavirus program expanding from 11 to 22 states this week, with the North Burkhart location being the first to come online in the Southwest Indiana. And the response has been just as powerful.
"We launched our scheduling live on Wednesday," said Russell "and, within the first hour, we had across the stores that went live that day and had to pull it down temporarily, so we could sustain the volume coming in."
While initial supplies are limited, the goal is for the store to give out 200 Moderna-type of vaccinations a week. And this is only the beginning, with other Walmart clinics slated to open soon.
"We don't have a date yet," said Russell, "but we do have both the Red Bank Road location and our Newburgh facility will be included in the tier two program, which we're hopeful will begin in the next couple weeks."
Meanwhile down in Kentucky, Walmart has already been at work, vaccinating teachers in Daviess, Henderson, Union, Muhlenberg and Ohio Counties. Now they're planning on opening one for the general public.
"Beyond that, we also have our Central City location is going to be in partnership with the governor, coming from a federal allocation," said Russell. "And we're hopeful they'll be going live on February 18th."
Just down the road at Deaconess Hospital ... Vaccine Clinic Director Andrew Schenk says Walmart's clinic as a welcomed addition,
"I think the more the merrier," said Schenk. "We're not going to change or reduce our volume, because other places are opening up. I think if other areas open up and locations are able to get the vaccine, then that will increase access to our community, which is what we need."
At the current protocol, people 65 and over can sign up for a vaccination, while in Kentucky, the age range is currently 70 and over. And the process is simple.
"Anyone can go online to the Walmart.com platform, and click the COVID 19 link," said Russell. "There'll be a schedule now. Very simple and easy process."
Brian Russell says for those seniors who either don't have a computer or are not computer savvy, Walmart is working on alternate ways to sign up for vaccinations.
You can see a full list of all Walmart (and Sam's Club) locations offering the COVID-19 vaccine in Indiana by clicking here.