Officials are encouraging Americans to receive boosters before embarking upon holiday travel over the next two months. The White House said in a statement that President Joe Biden has called upon pharmacies to “double down” on efforts to increase vaccination rates, prompting the organizations to send “tens of millions of texts, calls, and emails to customers, multimedia marketing campaigns,” while federal pharmacy partners are extending hours and accepting walk-in appointments.
“Over 20 million Americans, including nearly one in five seniors, have already rolled up their sleeves to get their updated COVID-19 vaccine, and the President will encourage more Americans to do so right away,” the White House said. “The President will get his updated COVID-19 vaccine, and call on everyone — including state, local, education, and business leaders — to do their part to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities.”
Albertsons, a grocery store chain with most locations in the western part of the nation, will discount groceries by 10% for people who receive the vaccine in-store, with total benefits capped at $20. CVS Health is likewise offering $5 off any regular purchase of $20, while Rite Aid will offer coupons for $5 off a purchase of $25 or more. Southeastern Grocers will provide $20 vouchers when individuals receive their COVID vaccine and booster at the same time.
“They are working with employers, schools, nursing homes and other community organizations to meet people where they are and advance vaccine equity,” the White House added. “These steps will ensure Americans can get the protection they need heading into the winter at trusted, convenient locations.”
Beyond the companies offering discounts, Walgreens is spending millions to “encourage vaccinations across Black and Hispanic communities,” while Walmart and Sam’s Club will play a reminder over store loudspeakers three to four times each hour in the hopes that shoppers will opt to receive their vaccines.
The offer of grocery vouchers from the pharmaceutical chains occurs as inflation reaches four-decade highs. Price levels between September 2021 and September 2022 rose 8.2%, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with prices for food increasing 11.2% over the same period. The cost of food at home, a category that includes grocery store or supermarket food purchases, rose 0.7% from the previous month. According to a report from Bank of America, roughly 71% of Americans “feel the cost of living is outpacing growth in their salary or wages.”
The Biden administration recently announced a plan to “end hunger” centered upon increased spending on government nutrition programs. Among other programs, the White House will increase access to free school meals by expanding the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility, pilot medically tailored meals via Medicaid, and increase Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries’ access to nutrition and obesity counseling.
“Too many families don’t know where they’re going to get their next meal,” Biden said in a video message. “There are too many empty chairs around the kitchen table because a loved one was taken by heart disease, diabetes, or other diet-oriented diseases, which are some of the leading causes of death in our country. And the toll of these diseases is not distributed equally — it’s higher in certain racial and ethnic groups.”