When the federal government identified Walmart as one of the chains participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, Maine governor Janet Mills knew rural Mainers would benefit.

“We have the most dispersed population of any state in the country,” Mills said. “There are other chains, chain grocery stores and whatnot but they were not ready yet with respect to electronic medical records and being able to coordinate information with the state.”

To start, Maine Walmarts receive around 200 doses a week and will ramp up to 400 doses as Mainers start receiving their second dose of the vaccine at Walmart in the coming weeks.

Pat and John Thomas (pictured above) received their first doses of the vaccine at the Walmart in Skowhegan, Maine. They had both signed up for appointments at a local hospital but hadn’t yet heard back when they were able to get appointments at Walmart.

The couple was eager to get their first dose and move on from the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ll be able to see our family and friends. It will just be nice to be able to visit and go somewhere when you’re not afraid,” Pat said.

You can read more about the vaccine efforts at Maine’s Walmart stores here.