CVS Health said Wednesday that it expects to finish the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations in U.S. nursing homes by January 25.
In December, the drugstore chain announced that it had partnered with nearly 40,000 nursing homes and long-term care facilities. CVS said it would be sending teams of pharmacists to administer shots to residents and staff in these facilities, which were hard hit by the pandemic.
The company now says it’s on track to meet the goal it set for administering shots to these vulnerable citizens, despite the fact that it’s encountered a few unexpected challenges.
CVS said that the actual number of residents in nursing homes turned out to be roughly 20-30 percent lower than projections based on bed count. Additionally, the chain said “initial uptake among staff” has been low, in part because facilities are spacing out staff vaccinations. Facilities are reportedly accounting for the possibility that vaccine side effects could cause some employees to stay home for a few days.
“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,” 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.”
Nursing homes prioritized
Walgreens has also partnered with nursing homes and assisted living facilities to administer COVID-19 shots. The company says it’s also on track to finish administering the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines at those locations by January 25.
Residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been prioritized in the vaccine distribution timeline because these citizens have accounted for a large portion of the nation’s overall coronavirus outbreaks and deaths.
Although less than 1 percent of the U.S. population lives in long-term care facilities, they account for about 38 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the country, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
On Tuesday, Politico quoted a senior Health and Human Services official as saying that between 3,000 and 6,000 retail pharmacies could start administering COVID-19 shots in the next two weeks.