CVS aims to finish first round of nursing home COVID-19 vaccinations by Jan. 25

CVS aims to finish first round of nursing home COVID-19 vaccinations by Jan. 25
© Getty Images

CVS is on track to finish giving the first of three rounds of COVID-19 shots in nursing homes across the country by Jan. 25, the company said Wednesday.

The Trump administration is partnering with CVS and Walgreens to inoculate nursing home residents and staff against the coronavirus. The campaign launched Dec. 21, and is now underway in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

CVS said it is partnering with nearly 8,000 of the 15,000 skilled nursing facilities nationwide. 

ADVERTISEMENT

CVS expects to vaccinate up to 4 million residents and staff at more than 40,000 long-term care facilities through the program; Walgreen's partnership covers nearly 3 million residents at 35,000 facilities.

Under the program, pharmacy teams make three visits to each long-term care facility to ensure residents and staff receive their initial shot and booster. The majority of residents and staff will be fully vaccinated three to four weeks after the first visit, depending on which vaccine they receive.

But because of the large number of facilities and the logistical challenges, it will take months to reach every U.S. facility.

Vaccination rollout overall has been slower than anticipated. The Trump administration said they aimed to vaccinate 20 million people in December, but as of Tuesday, just over 4.8 million had received the first dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

While more than 3.2 million doses of vaccine have been distributed by the federal government through its federal long-term care partnership, just 429,000 have been administered as of Tuesday, according to the CDC.

But that number is likely an undercount due to data lags. CVS said it has been following COVID-19 vaccination reporting protocols in states, but what is shared publicly is typically outdated in 48 to 72 hours.

ADVERTISEMENT

In addition to nursing homes, CVS said it will vaccinate residents and staff in 31,000 assisted-living facilities, beginning next week.

The company noted there have been challenges. While uptake among residents is "encouragingly high," the actual number of residents is about 20 to 30 percent lower than projections that were based on bed count. 

"We're dealing with a vulnerable population that requires onsite and, in some cases, in-room visits at facilities with fewer than 100 residents on average," CVS President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement.

"Despite these challenges we remain on schedule, and the number of vaccines we administer will continue to rise as more facilities are activated by the states," he said.

CVS said initial uptake among staff is low, part of which is likely due to facilities wanting to stagger vaccinations between visits. Facilities are spacing out the vaccinations to ensure any side effects don't limit staffing.

The bigger issue is some nursing home staff are reluctant to get vaccinated, despite data that show both vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer respectively, are safe.