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Discussion Paper

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We use geospatial data to examine the unprecedented national program currently underway in the United States to distribute and administer vaccines against COVID- 19. We quantify the impact of the proposed federal partnership with the company Dollar General to serve as vaccination sites and compare vaccine access with Dollar General to the current Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership Program. Although dollar stores have been viewed with skepticism and controversy in the policy sector, we show that, relative to the locations of the current federal program, Dollar General stores are disproportionately likely to be located in Census tracts with high social vulnerability; using these stores as vaccination sites would greatly decrease the distance to vaccines for both low-income and minority households. We consider a hypothetical alternative partnership with Dollar Tree and show that adding these stores to the vaccination program would be similarly valuable, but impact different geographic areas than the Dollar General partnership. Adding Dollar General to the current pharmacy partners greatly surpasses the goal set by the Biden administration of having 90% of the population within 5 miles of a vaccine site. We discuss the potential benefits of leveraging these partnerships for other vaccinations, including against influenza.

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