COVID-19

Pharmacy chains will lead vaccine delivery to seniors in long-term care

Mitchell Hartman Dec 16, 2020
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A man holds his wife's hands through the wall of a plastic "hug tent" outside a Colorado nursing facility. Elderly people in long-term care are prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination. Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images
COVID-19

Pharmacy chains will lead vaccine delivery to seniors in long-term care

Mitchell Hartman Dec 16, 2020
Heard on:
A man holds his wife's hands through the wall of a plastic "hug tent" outside a Colorado nursing facility. Elderly people in long-term care are prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination. Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images
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We saw scenes this week of American health care workers getting the first approved coronavirus vaccines — from Pfizer. Moderna’s vaccine could get the same emergency-use authorization this week.

Also at the front of the line for vaccination: those who work in long-term care facilities and nursing homes, as well as the vulnerable, mostly elderly residents they care for.

But this very first round of vaccines isn’t getting to those long-term care facilities just yet.

At most long-term care facilities, vaccines will be given to residents and caregivers by staff from big pharmacy chains. That system’s taking a couple of extra weeks to get up and running, said Claire Hannan at the Association of Immunization Managers.

“We don’t want to have CVS and Walgreens going into long-term care facilities and some of the residents aren’t ready, they haven’t completed the consent form, there isn’t a space set up for them,” she said.

Hannan said it makes sense to deliver vaccines this way. Pharmacies already have similar arrangements to supply drugs and flu shots to these facilities.

Getting millions of long-term care residents and workers vaccinated with two doses will be challenging, said Joe Gaugler at the University of Minnesota.

“Inherently complex health conditions that older persons living in nursing homes are experiencing makes targeting that delivery fairly complicated,” he said.

The longer-term challenge, Gaugler said, will be to get family and friends vaccinated so elderly residents can have visitors again.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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