(Corrects paragraph 3 to say Walgreens’ previous forecast was for fiscal year 2021, not calendar year 2021 in Aug. 4 story)
(Reuters) – Drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance said on Wednesday it had administered more than 29 million COVID-19 vaccines at its stores so far, led by a surge in parts of the United States that had lagged in vaccinations.
Vaccine administration surged more than 30% in states such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Kentucky in the past few weeks, the drugstore chain said.
The company, among the largest U.S. pharmacy chains, had said in June that it expects to administer 28 million vaccines in fiscal year 2021.
Walgreens also said it had made masks mandatory for its U.S. employees and required staff working at U.S. support offices to be fully vaccinated, the latest company to update its policies as COVID-19 cases rise in the United States.
New guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that recommends fully vaccinated individuals wear mask as well as surging cases due to the more infectious Delta variant have led companies to rethink their policies.
Walgreens said on Wednesday it also encouraged all customers, including those who are vaccinated, to wear masks.
It said the vaccination mandate, which requires employees , to be inoculated by Sept. 30, does not apply to U.S. employees working in stores, distribution centers or other facilities.
Tyson Foods Inc, Microsoft Corp and Detroit’s Big Three automakers also updated their vaccination and masking policies on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)