Ralphs has begun vaccinating pharmacy staff in Southern California. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Ralphs announced Friday that it has begun administering free COVID-19 vaccinations to its pharmacists and pharmacy staff, along with other health care providers.

The process began at its 50 pharmacies in Los Angeles and Riverside counties.

It will continue next week at Ralphs Pharmacy locations in San Diego, as well as Long Beach, along with stores in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, according to the grocery chain.

The Moderna vaccinations are currently available only to those who are eligible as part of the first tiers of Phase 1A of county public health COVID-19 vaccine distribution phases.

Those seeking vaccinations will be required to complete a disclosure form declaring they are eligible for the Phase 1A distribution, according to the company.

“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,” said Dr. Linh Lee, Ralphs’ director of pharmacy/health & wellness. “Additionally, Ralphs pharmacists will provide monitoring for 15-30 minutes after the vaccination is administered for any potential immediate reaction that could occur.”

“Our most urgent priority throughout this pandemic has been to provide a safe environment for our associates and customers while meeting our societal obligation to provide open stores and access to fresh, affordable food,” Lee added.

Meanwhile, frontline grocery employees have been moved to Phase 1B of the vaccine distribution.

The grocery chain, part of The Kroger Co., said its presence in local communities provides it with the unique ability to administer the vaccine.

The vaccine 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.

Ralphs said it will follow public health guidance on vaccine distribution for the general public.

Ralphs and The Kroger Co. became the nation’s first retailer to offer rapid antibody tests for $25 to customers, the company said.

– City News Service

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