When COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives, Pharmacists Will Give Shots to LTCF Residents

When a vaccine for COVID-19 is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, pharmacists employed by CVS and Walgreens will be ready to quickly begin vaccinating long-term care facility residents across the country. Find out what other role pharmacy chains will play in the Operation Warp Speed initiative.

WASHINGTON, DC – Federal officials have reached agreement with two of the nation’s largest drugstore chain to provide and administer COVID-19 vaccines, when available, to long-term care facility (LTCF) residents.

As part of the Operation Warp Speed (OWS) initiatives, the U.S. departments of Defense (DoD) and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that they would be working with CVS and Walgreens to immunize residents of nursing homes, which have been the most hard-hit sites with the novel coronavirus.

OWS officials said in a press release that LTCF residents might be among prioritized groups for initial COVID-19 vaccination until enough doses are available for every American opting for vaccination.

The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program will provide complete management of the COVID-19 vaccination process. OWS suggests that will minimize the burden on nursing homes and local health departments for vaccine handling, administration, and fulfilling reporting requirements.

 “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,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

“The pandemic has inflicted a devastating toll on America’s nursing home residents,” added Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, adding the pharmacy chain involvement means that long term care facilities “are at the front of the line for the COVID vaccine and will bring their grueling trial to a close as swiftly as possible.”

The program is free of charge to facilities and available for residents in all long-term care settings, including skilled nursing facilities (SNF), nursing homes, assisted living facilities, residential care homes, and adult family homes. It also is available to all remaining LTCF staff members who have not been previously vaccinated for COVID-19 (e.g., through satellite, temporary, or off-site clinics).

Using multiple authorities, HHS says it is seeking to ensure appropriate reimbursement for the vaccination services and that no American being vaccinated for COVID-19 will have to pay out-of-pocket.

Under the plan, CVS and Walgreens will schedule and coordinate on-site clinic visits directly with each facility, with the possibility that three total visits over approximately two months are likely to be required to administer both doses of vaccine (if indicated) to residents and staff. 

The pharmacies will also:

  • Receive and manage vaccines and associated supplies (e.g., syringes, needles, and personal protective equipment).
  • Ensure cold chain management for vaccine.
  • Provide on-site administration of vaccine.
  • Report required vaccination data (including who was vaccinated, with what vaccine, and where) to the state, local, or territorial, and federal public health authorities within 72 hours of administering each dose.
  • Adhere to all applicable CMS requirements for COVID-19 testing for LTCF staff.

Beginning the middle of this month, LTCFs will be able to opt in and indicate which pharmacy partner their facility prefers to have on-site. Because LTCFs are not mandated to participate in the program, they also will be able to opt to use their current pharmacy contracts to support COVID-19 vaccination.

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