COVID-19 vaccine arrives at DC Giant stores

In front of a American flag, nurse Lillian Wirpsza, left, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Shylee Stewart, a labor and delivery nurse at George Washington University Hospital, December 14, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by JACQUELYN MARTIN/POOL/AFP

Pharmacies are playing a growing role in COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

As of now, five Giant Food stores in DC are taking part in the effort.

Each pharmacy received 600 doses for frontline workers Saturday morning, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser says.

"Giant is thrilled to be one of the first retail locations in Washington, D.C. to help play a critical role in administering the Covid-19 vaccine for essential healthcare workers, (and) doing our part to maximize access to the vaccine quickly and efficiently," Paul Zvaleny, Director of Pharmacy Operations at Giant, said in a statement.

Jana Berhow, vice president for DC Programs, did not hesitate signing up. She said this is about protecting the vulnerable people she works with day to day.

"It’s important for keeping them healthy and safe and for me, as a manager, to show my staff too ‘I’m not afraid to get this vaccine’ I want to get this vaccine. We need to do what we can to keep our people safe," said Berhow.

Two men who work at D.C. Healthcare feel grateful to be among the first to get the vaccine.

They said now they feel safe and secure. Also, they did not experience any reactions during the injection.

"A slight pinch, other than that very normal like any other vaccine," said Jim George.

George's co-worker, Bobble Steven, added that "we are very fortunate. We are very happy – we are the first to get it."

Giant Pharmacy Clinical Programs Manager Samir Balile told FOX 5 that vaccinations will happen daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Balile added it is a step towards that sense of normalcy many are eager for.

"This is a great way to end the year that’s been trying for many people and I think it’s a great glimmer of hope that at least we’re doing our part to ending the pandemic as well as helping our citizens here in the district of Columbia," he said.

At this time, the vaccine is not available for everyone. Giant's priority is the elderly and frontline healthcare workers.

While the general public patiently waits for the vaccine, it is still important to continue wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing hands.

Mayor Bowser announced the District will receive doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine throughout the week.

8,775 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are from Virginia and 4,875 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are from Operation Warp Speed

8,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine are from Maryland and 12,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine are from Operation Warp Speed.