By Richa Naidu
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Walgreens Boot Alliance is opening its first corporate COVID-19 vaccine clinics at several Amtrak offices in early April to vaccinate "large numbers" of the U.S. passenger railroad's employees, the companies told Reuters exclusively.
Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens said the clinics will be similar to those set up for flu vaccinations and will be run by a combination of pharmacists and technicians from Walgreens stores.
American corporations are counting down the days to when their employees will be eligible for vaccine shots.
A Willis Towers Watson survey published on Thursday showed that one in four employers is trying to help employees get vaccinated by obtaining vaccines or facilitating access to vaccines through a third party.
With nearly 70% of Americans over 65 now vaccinated, as well as willing healthcare workers and teachers around the country, most states have begun inoculating essential workers, people with health conditions and/or people in older age groups.
It is up to state governments to decide which industries and workers in their jurisdictions are considered essential.
"We run a 24/7/365 operation providing intercity rail service across 46 states so all of our employees are considered essential workers under most eligibility guidelines," Amtrak said in a statement.
Vaccines will not be mandatory, but Amtrak is "encouraging all employees across the country" to get them.
Walgreens said it has been approached for months by companies looking for guidance on when their workers will be eligible.
"As long as they fall within the eligibility criteria and they have a vaccine allocated from the state, then we're able to support them," said Rick Gates, Walgreens' head of pharmacy and healthcare.
The company also told Reuters it has tested over 400,000 U.S. corporate employees at about 14 companies since the pandemic began.
Walmart, CVS Health and Kroger and others have yet to set up corporate clinics with companies. CVS, Walgreens' biggest rival, said it does not have information to share on its plans.
(Reporting by Richa Naidu; Editing by Karishma Singh)