There are still a lot of unknowns surrounding COVID-19 vaccines, and one big question that remains is how many months of protection they actually provide. This week, the FDA gave the inklings of an answer. On Aug. 18, it announced that all individuals who received a COVID-19 vaccine should prepare to get a booster shot starting eight months after their second dose.
Based on initial data, health experts agree that the protection offered by COVID-19 vaccines will inevitably wane over time. And so not only might an initial booster shot be required, but annual booster shots may become the norm, as has been the case with the flu vaccine for a very long time.
Given the number of people who had less-than-fun reactions to their second coronavirus shot, this may not be the most welcome news (though when we compare a couple of days of light fevers and sluggishness to multiple weeks of full-blown COVID, it reads like less of a big deal). But the fact that boosters may be a long-term fixture in the fight against COVID-19 could end up being unquestionably beneficial to retailers.
You'd think that pharmacies would see their fair share of foot traffic, especially during a pandemic. But in some areas -- particularly rural ones -- pharmacies are at serious risk of having to close their doors due to a lack of customers.
Compounding the problem is Amazon's foray into the pharmacy space. The online giant recently launched its own pharmacy service that has the potential to take lots of business away from physical pharmacies, especially given its competitive price points.
However, there's one service Amazon's online pharmacy cannot provide: COVID-19 vaccines or boosters. Those have to be given out by medical professionals qualified to administer a jab. And if boosters become necessary, that alone could drive more people to physical pharmacies in the coming years.
Granted, pharmacies may not derive a lot of revenue from vaccine administration. But once they're able to get people in the door, the potential for profit is huge. Consumers may be inspired to make impulse purchases while they wait in line for their booster shots. Or, they might just load up on staple items, since they already have a reason to come to the store.
In fact, based on the available supply of COVID-19 vaccines today, it's likely that recipients who need a booster will have the option to walk into a pharmacy, without an appointment, and get their required jab. If so, it's likely that they'll time those visits for when they're running low on over-the-counter medications or other pharmacy staples.
The Millionacres bottom line
Many people routinely visit their local pharmacy for an annual flu shot, and COVID-19 booster shots could follow a very similar pattern. At this point, commercial landlords cannot afford to have pharmacies shutter due to a lack of foot traffic. If that happens, they lose out on revenue and get stuck with vacancies to fill. And so while COVID-19 booster shots may be an inconvenience for the people who need them, they're actually pretty good news for real estate investors.