Coronavirus Covid-19 Vaccine - stock photo

Source:  Ashe Schow

The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Friday that it had partnered with CVS and Walgreens to administer coronavirus vaccines to long-term care facilities once one is developed.

“The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program provides complete management of the COVID-19 vaccination process. This means LTCF residents and staff across the country will be able to safely and efficiently get vaccinated once vaccines are available and recommended for them, if they have not been previously vaccinated. It will also minimize the burden on LTCF sites and jurisdictional health departments of vaccine handling, administration, and fulfilling reporting requirements,” HHS said in a press release.

HHS said in its press release that the program will be “free of charge to facilities” and be available to residents and staff members in “all long-term care settings, including skilled nursing facilities (SNF), nursing homes, assisted living facilities, residential care homes, and adult family homes.” The program will also be available in rural areas where pharmacy access is limited.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar called the partnership with the two pharmacies “unprecedented” while announcing the deal.

“Protecting the vulnerable has been the number one priority of the Trump Administration’s response to COVID-19, and that commitment will continue through distributing a safe and effective vaccine earliest to those who need it most,” Azar said. “Our unprecedented public-private partnership with CVS and Walgreens will provide convenient and free vaccination to residents of nursing homes across America, another historic achievement in our efforts to get a safe and effective vaccine to Americans as fast as possible.”

CNBC reported that the two pharmacies “will schedule and coordinate on-site clinic dates directly with each facility,” anticipating three total visits spread out over two months to administer the two doses of the vaccine to those who need it.

Troy Brennan, Chief Medical Officer of CVS Health said the company “has been on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, working across the health care spectrum in all the communities we serve and that will continue to be the case when we have a vaccine to dispense.”

John Standley, Walgreens president said distributing the vaccines to the vulnerable would be “critical” to recovering from COVID-19.

“Ensuring access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly among our most vulnerable populations, will be critical to saving lives and helping our nation recover from the pandemic,” Standley said. “Since the onset of the pandemic, Walgreens has worked closely with the CDC, HHS and the Administration to help accelerate the availability of COVID tests, ensure access to essential medicines and products and serve as a safe and trusted source of information in our communities. We are proud of how our pharmacists have continued to serve our patients and look forward to leveraging our nationwide footprint, community presence and pharmacist expertise to help administer COVID-19 vaccines, once they become available.”

On October 19, long-term care facilities will be able to opt-in to the program and declare which pharmacy they will partner with. There is no mandate to participate, so facilities can also choose to partner with their current pharmacy for vaccine administration.