'A fiasco': Long-term care facilities say CVS, Walgreens partnership slowing COVID-19 vaccinations

The effort to vaccinate long-term care facility residents against COVID-19 has been slowed by the federal program that sends retail pharmacists into nursing homes, reports Kaiser Health News. 

The federal partnership consists of Walgreens and CVS pharmacy teams vaccinating nursing home residents and staff. As of Jan. 14, the partnership was allocated more than 4.7 million Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine doses. Since the program rolled out in some states Dec. 21, only a quarter of those doses have been administered, according to the CDC.

Some nursing home directors and health officials say the partnership is slowing the vaccination process by imposing paperwork and cumbersome corporate policies on inadequately staffed facilities. They argue that nursing homes are unique medical facilities that would be better served by medical workers who already understand how they operate.

The partnership "has been a fiasco," said Thomas Dobbs, MD, Mississippi's state health officer, according to KHN. The state has 90,000 vaccine doses for nursing homes, but had administered only 5 percent of the shots as of Jan. 14, according to Dr. Dobbs. Pharmacy officials told him they're struggling to find enough people to staff the program.

Nursing homes have resources that could've helped the effort but often aren't utilized. Most centers already work with pharmacists who understand the needs of nursing homes and administer medications and yearly vaccinations. The pharmacists know the patients' medical histories and are familiar with nursing homes, said Linda Taetz, senior vice president and chief compliance officer for Palm Desert, Calif.-based Mariner Health Central.

"It's not that they aren't capable," Ms. Taetz said of the retail pharmacists. "They just aren't embedded in our buildings."

CVS and Walgreens said they're set to finish administering the first doses by Jan. 25, as planned.

More articles on pharmacy:
Novant Health launches 6 vaccination sites in North Carolina
ISMP details errors with COVID-19 vaccinations
Wisconsin pharmacist accused of purposely ruining COVID-19 vaccines will have license suspended


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