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