Local independent pharmacy offers first COVID-19 vaccines, with shipment of Johnson & Johnson doses

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CUYAHOGA FALLS, OHIO (WJW) – An increasing number of independent pharmacies in Ohio are now in the fight to beat COVID-19 as some received vaccine doses for the first time.

“We’ve been ready since the middle of January,” said Barry Klein of the family-owned Klein’s Pharmacy. “We’ve prepared the locations, had a plan, we’ve just been waiting to execute the plan.”

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Klein said they are the only independent pharmacy in Cuyahoga Falls, making them the only locally-owned pharmacy in the city to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. He said the pharmacy has served the community for more than 50 years.

“We’ve already had the first 100 time slots already booked in less than 24 hours, it has gone really fast,” he said.

According to the Ohio Department of Health there are 211 independent pharmacies in Ohio receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, each pharmacy will receive 100 doses.

“At this time, the providers don’t yet know if they will be getting another Johnson & Johnson shipment next week,” said ODH spokesperson Alicia Shoults.

Shoults said they were told allocations will be lower the next couple of weeks as Johnson & Johnson increases production.

“We’re excited that the independents are now in line and they should have been from Day One,” said Ernie Boyd, the Ohio Pharmacists Association Executive Director.

Boyd said they worked with Gov. DeWine to help expand vaccine access to include independent pharmacies.

“He started with about 20 independent pharmacies,” said Boyd. “He went to 40 and now, as of yesterday, they got out to at least 211 independents out of the 249 that are signed up for the program.”

Klein said they are prepared to handle more vaccinations, but they don’t know how consistent shipments will be and how many doses they will receive with each one.

“Being a small business, we have the ability to pivot and make the workflow fit what we need based on the needs of our patients,” said Dan Jones, Vice President of Pharmacy Operations at Klein’s Pharmacy.

Wednesday marked the first day for many Klein’s Pharmacy customers who said they were grateful to get the vaccine at the pharmacy they trust.

“Very nice, the lady explained everything, gave us all the information. Very kind, very sterile. I’m completely pleased,” said Virginia Wright who received a vaccination.

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