Ingles Markets steps up COVID-19 vaccination push

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Over the past week or so, Ingles Markets has expanded efforts to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the communities it serves, as well as to employees.

Asheville, N.C.-based Ingles said yesterday that it has partnered with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to provide coronavirus shots to the Belton, S.C., community. Plans called for Ingles pharmacists to vaccinate those eligible in a clinic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 24, at the Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Belton.

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“Working with DHEC and the NAACP allows us to expand South Carolinians’ access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” Ingles Chief Financial Officer Ron Freeman said in a statement. “We know every vaccine our teams administer provides aid to the community as we move closer to herd immunity.”

The Ingles/NAACP clinic will help get as many South Carolinians vaccinated as soon as possible and reach areas with limited access to health services, according to Dr. Linda Bell, the South Carolina DHEC’s top epidemiologist.

Related: Publix now offers COVID-19 vaccinations across its market area

“This event is so important because it speaks to many of the things we’re trying to accomplish,” Bell explained. “It satisfies our need to reach the rural, underserved areas of our state. And by partnering with the NAACP and Ingles, we reinforce the importance and benefits these vaccinations can have in the African-American community that has suffered a disproportionate share of COVID-19 illnesses and deaths. We encourage everyone to roll up their sleeve on Saturday and get that life-saving dose of protection.”

All 111 Ingles pharmacy locations are now administering COVID shots across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

Last week, Ingles announced initiatives to drive COVID immunizations among employees. The company began on-site vaccination clinics for its frontline distribution center workers and office associates. Besides widening access to the vaccine and providing a convenient way to receive it, the clinics give employees time to asks Ingles pharmacists questions about the shots. Ingles also has hosted COVID vaccination clinics at its corporate headquarters and distribution center in Black Mountain, N.C.

“Throughout the pandemic, protecting our frontline associates and our customers has been our top priority,” Freeman commented. “Promoting vaccinations within our company not only protects our associates, but protects our customers and communities.”

A couple of days before the latest employee clinics, Ingles announced that it would provide workers with paid time to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Full-time associates get 10 hours of paid time and part-time associates five hours of paid time once they have received full doses of the vaccine.

Ingles reported April 14 that all 111 of its pharmacy locations are now providing COVID shots to customers across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, where people ages 16 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine.

“We are proud to say we can play a role in turning the tide on this pandemic by offering vaccines to our patients at all of our pharmacy locations,” Freeman stated.

Ingles received its first COVID-19 vaccine allocation in December, and the retailer said its pharmacy department has been working with federal and state governments to bring shot to more communities. Overall, the chain operates 198 supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Alabama.

“Our pharmacists offer unparalleled healthcare, routine vaccines and clinical counseling services to our patients every day,” said Freeman. “We are grateful they can look to us for their COVID-19 vaccination needs as well.”

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