California Grocery Chain Begins Administering COVID Vaccines

January 8, 2021 Updated: January 8, 2021

Ralphs supermarket chain has begun administering free COVID-19 vaccinations to its pharmacists and pharmacy staff, along with other health care providers at its 50 pharmacies in Los Angeles and Riverside counties.

The number of Ralphs’ pharmacy locations will increase to 60 when the City of Long Beach, as well as San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties receive the COVID-19 vaccine next week, John Votava, director of corporate affairs for Ralphs, told The Epoch Times in a Jan. 8 email.

The grocery chain, based in Compton, Calif., has a plan in place for distribution in Orange County as soon as doses become available, Votava said.

“Ralphs is glad to be a part of the solution for the coronavirus pandemic,” he said. “We are following and will continue to follow guidance from local health departments on the vaccine distribution plan for all phases.”

The Moderna vaccinations are currently available only to those who are eligible as part of the first tiers of Phase 1A of L.A. County Public Health’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution phase. Those seeking vaccinations will be required to complete a disclosure form declaring they are eligible for the Phase 1A distribution.

“We are confident in the safety of the vaccine based on the thorough clinical trials and assurances from the Food & Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Dr. Linh Lee, Ralphs’ director of pharmacy/health and wellness, stated in a release. “Additionally, Ralphs pharmacists will provide monitoring for 15-30 minutes after the vaccination is administered for any potential immediate reaction that could occur.”

The Ralphs grocery chain, part of The Kroger Co., said its presence in local communities provide it with the unique ability to administer the vaccine, which will be rolled out to all 77 Ralphs pharmacies throughout Southern California and the Central Coast as soon it becomes available through local health departments.

All frontline grocery chain employees in Los Angeles were recently approved by county officials for a “hero pay,” amounting to an additional $5 per hour, and were moved to Phase 1B of the vaccine distribution.

“The wheels were set in motion for the change just before the end of 2020,” Votava told The Epoch Times. “We are pleased that, through our advocacy efforts, our frontline grocery associates have been [given higher priority].”

Vaccinations will take place at Ralph’s pharmacy sections.

Ralphs said it will follow guidance from local health departments on the vaccine distribution plan for the general public.

The company noted that Ralphs has assisted Kroger in conducting more than 250,000 COVID-19 tests nationally since April and that Kroger offers free COVID-19 testing to all Ralphs’ frontline associates.