CVS to make vaccine booking more accessible in settlement with DOJ

A view of a CVS pharmacy store in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 15, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
  • Booking site inaccessible for those using screen readers -DOJ
  • CVS is fifth pharmacy to reach similar deal

(Reuters) - CVS Pharmacy Inc, the nation's largest retail pharmacy, has agreed to change its COVID-19 vaccine booking website to be accessible for people with disabilities as part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The deal, announced Monday, is the fifth such settlement with a national pharmacy operator since last November. Similar deals were previously announced with Rite Aid Corp, Hy-Vee Inc, The Kroger Co and Meijer Inc.

Making free vaccines accessible has been the centerpiece of the Biden administration's efforts to control the pandemic.

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"Now more than ever, we must ensure web accessibility for people with disabilities seeking access to critical needs and services," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said in a statement. The Civil Rights Division handled the matter jointly with the office of Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha.

"We're committed to supporting the health of our communities, which includes making COVID-19 vaccinations accessible for all eligible patients," CVS said in a statement.

The Justice Department said that CVS' vaccine appointment site was not accessible for users who have difficulty using a mouse or who use screen reading software, which converts text on a computer screen to spoken language or interfaces with a Braille reader.

Specifically, the site caused screen readers to omit information about types of vaccines that were available and incorrectly told users that all boxes for appointment times were checked, while users relying on keyboard inputs rather than a mouse could not get past a request for insurance information, according to the Justice Department.

Under the deal, CVS will conform its site to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, voluntary accessibility guidelines maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium, an international standards-setting organization.

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Brendan Pierson reports on product liability litigation and on all areas of health care law. He can be reached at brendan.pierson@thomsonreuters.com.