Small pharmacies key to W Virginia's early vaccination lead

For one thing, West Virginia has been charting its own path to vaccine distribution. All 49 other states signed on with a federal program partnering with CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate long-term care and assisted living facilities. But those chain stores are less common in West Virginia, so the state instead took charge of delivering its vaccine supply to 250 pharmacies — most of them small, independent stores.

State and local officials in other places may not have been able to coordinate as smoothly, she says. "They're trying to get CVS and Walgreens to come to their facilities, and CVS and Walgreens are moving at the pace they're moving."