Nursing Home-Pharmacy Partnership For COVID-19 Vaccine Coming To An End

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 11:02am

Pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS have been vaccinating long-term care residents and staff since December. Now, that program is coming to an end. 

Both Walgreens and CVS are wrapping up their third and final vaccine clinics in the coming weeks. But where do long-term care facilities go from here? 

Staff turnover is high, and new caregivers will need the vaccine; so will new residents. 

David Voepel is the CEO of the Arizona Health Care Association.

"So we're hoping that in the very near future, this turns into [something] like a flu vaccine for us," he said. "So that we call our long-term care pharmacist. And we have enough folks to make up a vial of vaccine."

In the meantime, Voepel says facilities will work with their county health departments to get the vaccine. The pharmacy program was a national effort, and while most residents got the jab, staff were more hesitant.

Christopher Laxton is the executive director of AMDA, the Society for Post Acute and Long Term Care Medicine.

"While residents to a very large degree over 90%, nationally, have been vaccinated, staff are still at the 50 to 60% level," said Laxton.

Arizona saw similar vaccination rates.

"I think in Arizona, again, from what I'm seeing is that we're probably in the 90% range for residents, and a little bit higher, maybe, 65% or so for the staff," said Voepel.

The good news, says Laxton, is more staff have been willing to get the vaccine thanks to education campaigns.

Long-term care facilities have been relying on a pharmacy partnership to get residents and staff vaccinated against the coronavirus. But that partnership is coming to an end. In Arizona, both CVS and Walgreens are wrapping up their third and final clinics this month. 

As for mandating the vaccine, Voepel says most facilities are not mandating the COVID-19 vaccine at this point. Rather, he says, leadership is educating staff who are hesitant about the shot.

→ Q&AZ: What You Need To Know About Getting The Coronavirus Vaccine In Arizona

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