Consumers may be able to pair a trip to their local Dollar General (DG) store with a COVID vaccine appointment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the agency and Dollar General are in talks to set up vaccination sites at the retailer’s more than 16,000 stores, USA Today reported.

Walensky made the announcement about the possible partnership with the nation’s largest retailer at the Health Action Alliance's virtual National Business Summit.

"In rural areas, residents often don't have access to big-box stores. We're exploring a promising collaboration with Dollar General stores, which have locations that include refrigeration capacity within 10 or 15 miles of our rural communities in all but four states," Walensky said. 

Dollar General stores do not have pharmacies like the tie-ups that have been formed with Walmart, Costco, Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, and other retailers, but its sprawl setup in rural America would make it possible to roll out the COVID vaccine to more individuals across the U.S.

The company has three times the number of stores that Walmart has under its umbrella and more than half the number of locations than CVS and Walgreens, USA Today noted. All three retailers offer the COVID vaccine at some of their stores in select states across the nation, as shot supplies allow.

Dollar General, like many companies, announced that it would pay its employees for up to four hours of paid time off to receive the COVID vaccine as it looked to remove any barriers to receive the shot.

In a statement about the incentive for workers the company said, “We do not want our employees to have to choose between receiving a vaccine or coming to work.”

The company continued by saying. “We understand the decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccination is a personal choice, and although we are encouraging employees to take it, we are not requiring them to do so.”

The comments from Walensky come as concerns grow among the proving vaccine access to rural communities in the U.S.

Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation published in January showed that 35% of rural residents said that they will either probably not get the COVID vaccine or definitely not get it.

The research found that “individuals living in rural areas in the U.S. are significantly less likely to say they will get a COVID-19 vaccine that is deemed safe and available for free than individuals living in suburban and urban America.”

Shares of Dollar General were trading at $187.37 as of 11:49 a.m. ET, up 67 cents, or 0.36%.

Pfizer vaccine The Pfizer vaccine is pictured. Photo: AFP / THOMAS KIENZLE