Wed. Mar 3rd, 2021

By Lisa Bertelin Dina Beasali

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A former Arkansas health official is sounding the alarm about the speed of the coronovirus vaccine given to residents of long-term care facilities under the US plan, with several shots from major pharmacy chains CVS and Volgren Are included.

According to the state health department, more than 10% of the dose has been given to Arkansas senior citizens. Both pharmacies operate with about 40% of the state’s facilities. Some of those people were told that they were scheduled for February or March, Drs. Said Joe Thompson, former Arkansas surgeon general and chief executive officer of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement.

“It’s not acceptable,” Thompson said. “We are seeing a failure in deployment by CVS and Walgreens.”

In recent times, federal health officials have urged millions of Americans to broaden vaccine eligibility to speed up the national immunization program. Meanwhile, seniors at some long-term care facilities – who make up about 1% of the US population, but 40% of COVID-19 deaths and should have been at the front of the line – continue to wait.

State and local authorities and long-term care operators in states including Florida, California, Arizona, Indiana and Pennsylvania told Reuters that they have turned to alternative providers for vaccinations for their residents or employees as pharmacies are scheduling chain shot weeks Were.

Some 75,000 long-term care facilities were signed up to receive vaccines from CVS Health Corp and Valjean Boots Alliance Inc. under the USS Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Pharmacy Partnership Program.

“I think they face serious bandwidth issues in terms of scheduling,” said David Grabowski, a Harvard Medical School professor and healthcare policy expert. “I find it very disturbing that we are not doing it more quickly. It’s really a matter of life or death.”

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said in a statement on Thursday that the two pharmacy chains assured him that all long-term care given to them would be vaccinated by the end of this month.

Many states preferred homes with patients in need of medical care, which contributed to delays at other long-term care facilities.

CVS stated that it planned to finish all shots at the assigned facilities within nine to 12 weeks of the first dose. This means that states such as California, Florida, Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, which were among the last to activate the second phase of facility vaccination, may not expire until April.

CVS spokesman TJ Crawford said “state decisions that have a timely impact on facilities become active,” noting that the company has managed 1 million shots and is on track with its federal agreement .

Other obstacles include verifying the availability of the vaccine, winter holidays, hesitation of the vaccine and outbreak of fresh COVID-19, the companies said.

This resulted in a “slightly slower start than what we were expecting. Now that we have achieved the first of the year, you are seeing a quicker and faster acceleration,” said Rick Gates, Walgren’s senior vice president of pharmacy and health care. The company expects more than 500,000 shots by March.

‘Released by the gallantry party’

Meanwhile, Seminole County of Central Florida is deploying mobile clinics for some assisted living facilities.

“We went because either they have not been contacted by private providers or they have any kind of problem,” said County Emergency Manager Alan Harris.

“CVS and Walgreens, I think, are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of long-term care facilities in Florida,” Harris said.

The state of Florida has appointed health services firm CDR Maguire to vaccinate at about 1,900 assisted living facilities that CVS or Walgren prescribed on or after January 24.

Los Angeles County exited the CVS-Valgans partnership and is asking about facilities that can afford to vaccinate and take selfies. In Contra Costa County, Northern California, joins non-profit alternatives John Muir Health and Kaiser Permanente in pitching to help.

Choice in Aging is targeting facilities in historically unfit communities with six or fewer beds. “This is a population that is never prioritized,” said Debbie Toth, CEO of Choice in Aging.

The CDC said on Thursday that 26% of the 4.7 million vaccine doses allocated to the country’s long-term care sites were administered, which also harms 36% of the 30.6 million available nationwide.

West Virginia, which was selected from the CDC Pharmacy Partnership, made extensive plans and exploited its existing network of long-term care pharmacies to quickly vaccinate residents of a nursing home in an al-on-deck effort Asked to do, dr. Michael Wassman, former president California Association of Long Term Care Medicine.

“Pharmaceutical pharmacies must be absolutely involved,” said Scott Noir, CEO of the American Pharmacists Association. “I wish they were from the get-go.”

(Additional reporting by Carl O’Donnell in New York by Lisa Bertelin and Dina Beazley; Peter Hendersonand editing by Bill Burcott)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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