ECONOMY

CVS Says Covid-19 Vaccinations Slow as U.S. Rollout Runs Into Hesitancy


CVS Health Corp.


CVS 2.92%

said demand for Covid-19 vaccinations has fallen by about 30% recently as Americans’ hesitancy to receive the shots outweighs expanding eligibility and access.

The pharmacy chain has administered more than 17 million shots, which are now available at more than 8,300 U.S. locations. Like rivals, CVS has begun offering same-day appointments for injections in a bid to improve uptake.

In the early months of the U.S. vaccine rollout, restrictions on who could receive a vaccine and short supply of doses prevented many people from getting shots. Now, many parts of the country are reporting excess doses and unfilled appointments even as less than 60% of American adults have received at least one dose.

Anyone 16 or older is eligible for a vaccine in the U.S., a change from the months in which only certain groups of people could get a shot.

Pfizer Inc.


PFE -0.44%

and

BioNTech SE


BNTX -13.04%

last month asked U.S. health regulators to allow their Covid-19 vaccine to be given to adolescents to extend their shot’s use to children 12 years and older.

On Tuesday, Pfizer reported a surge in first-quarter revenue and said it expects the vaccine to generate $26 billion in sales this year. It had previously forecast $15 billion in sales from the vaccine.

CVS Health said Tuesday it now expects Covid-19 vaccines to contribute about 2% to the company’s prescription volume growth this year, on the low end of initial projections of 2% to 3%.

CVS Health Chief Executive

Karen Lynch

said Covid-19 vaccinations and testing are bolstering the company’s business, helping make up for a weak flu and cold season. On a conference call, Ms. Lynch said that in April “vaccinated customers are more actively shopping in CVS locations.” For customers new to the company through Covid-19 testing, she said the company is seeing around 9% filling a new prescription at a CVS pharmacy.

As more U.S. adults get their Covid-19 vaccines, a variety of side effects are emerging. WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez speaks with an infectious disease specialist on what is common, what isn’t and when to seek medical attention. Photo: Associated Press

The company said revenue in the segment that fulfills medication prescriptions and sells general products rose 2.3% to $23.27 billion in the first quarter, driven by higher Covid-19 testing and vaccinations. Partly offsetting the gains was lower front-store revenue.

The company posted first-quarter revenue of $69.1 billion, up 3.5%. Same-store sales, or those at retail pharmacy stores that had been operating for more than one year, rose 0.4%.

CVS, along with rival

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.,

supermarket chain

Kroger Co.

and

Walmart Inc.

have been pushing to get consumers to visit their locations to receive vaccines. The daily number of new Covid-19 cases have been declining and governors across the U.S. are now rolling back restrictions implemented during the pandemic.

Net income totaled $2.22 billion for the first quarter at CVS, up from $2 billion in the same period last year. Adjusted earnings were $2.04 a share, ahead of Wall Street estimates.

Write to Sharon Terlep at [email protected]

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