The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent surveys in October to facilities nationwide, giving them the option to either choose CVS Pharmacy or Walgreens as a COVID-19 vaccination partner or opt out and work with state authorities instead, according to CVS spokesperson Monica Prinzing.
The vast majority, according to Prinzing, opted for the pharmacies, including 99% of skilled nursing facilities.
Rolando Amado, executive director for Brightpointe at Rivershire, a nursing home in Conroe, said the facility will probably be working with Walgreens because of an existing contract the facility has with PharMerica, one of Walgreens’ partners. Amado said he is encouraging but not mandating the vaccine and that the general atmosphere is one of excitement.
“A lot of people saying they want to be first in line for the vaccine, but there’s always some who may have questions—which is natural,” he said.
The facility reported its first case, an infected patient who was returning from the hospital, on April 27, but Amado said they were spared outbreaks.
Amado said the pharmacies will be ordering, supplying and administering the vaccine, as nursing homes are generally not equipped to logistically handle the Pfizer vaccine, which must be kept at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Because the vaccine has to be stored at such a low temperature, there’s no nursing homes that have equipment to keep the vaccines, so it will be the pharmacies visiting the nursing homes,” he said. “I don’t know if its going to be only one day or if it's going to be over several days, that’s not clear from the instructions yet.”
Although Walgreens did not immediately respond to requests for comment Dec. 18, CVS has released statements regarding its distribution plan to senior facilities, which includes a “hub and spoke” model, where about 1,100 CVS Pharmacy locations will store vaccines based on geographic need. Pharmacy teams will go to these locations to pick up doses on their way to long-term care facilities.
“We’ll know how much we need for each facility and bring extra for new residents or staff members who may not have been included in the data that was shared in advance,” the statement read.
CVS pharmacists will make three stops at each facility—three weeks apart if using the Pfizer vaccine, four weeks apart if using Moderna’s. The first visit will be for the initial shot and the second for the booster. The third visit will be to provide a booster for residents and staff who received their first shot on CVS’s second visit.
Even once staff and residents are vaccinated at Brightpointe, the level of caution and stringent operations will not change, Amado said, because it is still designated a COVID-19 facility. After being COVID-19 free for four months, Brightpointe began accepting COVID-19 patients from local hospitals, and as of Dec. 17, there were five in the facility, according to its website.