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December 21, 2020

Vaccinations to begin at New Jersey, Pennsylvania nursing homes next week

CVS Health and Walgreens rolling out coronavirus vaccines at long-term care facilities across the country

Senior Health COVID-19
Nursing home COVID-19 vaccine Courtesy/CVS Health

CVS Health and Walgreens plan to administer COVID-19 vaccines to seven million residents and staffers at 75,000 nursing homes.

About 55,000 doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine will be deployed to New Jersey long-term care facilities next week as part of a CVS Health and Walgreens-led effort to inoculate residents and staffers. 

Pennsylvania nursing homes also will be receiving vaccines, but state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine was unable to provide a specific total Monday. 

CVS Health and Walgreens are set to begin vaccinating nursing home residents and staffers in both states next Monday as part of their agreements with the federal government. 

About 125,000 people in New Jersey will be fully vaccinated through the effort, state officials said during a media briefing Monday. Doing so will require 250,000 doses because the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each require two shots be given several weeks apart. 

Over the next two weeks, an additional 28,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will be held in reserve for New Jersey nursing homes.

Additionally, the state's five developmental centers, group homes and HUD senior housing deemed high-risk for COVID-19 transmission will receive doses once all long-term care facility residents and staff have been inoculated.

During a press conference, Levine did not detail the administration process in Pennsylvania, saying it is still being determined by the federal government and the pharmacy chains. 

Operation Warp Speed has assured Pennsylvania that nursing home residents and staff who receive their initial dose will be able to get their booster shot three to four weeks later, Levine said.

Walgreens began administering Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at Ohio and Connecticut nursing homes Friday. CVS began its rollout Monday. They will be administering vaccines at nursing homes in 12 states this week before expanding to another 36 states and Washington D.C. next week.

Both companies said they are planning to make three visits to each nursing home to ensure that residents and staff receive their initial shots and boosters. Pfizer's vaccine requires two doses given 21 days apart. Moderna's second dose must be administered 28 days later. 

CVS Health is expecting to vaccinate up to four million residents and staff at 40,000 long-term care facilities over the next three months. Walgreens plans to inoculate three million residents and staff at 35,000 long-term care facilities.

The companies were selected to handle the vaccine rollout in long-term care facilities by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The program is free of charge to long-term care facilities. Neither residents nor staff will incur any out-of-pocket costs.

"Walgreens is very proud to be a part of this historic milestone to begin administering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to our most vulnerable populations," Walgreens President John Standley said in a statement. "With more than a decade of experience administering various vaccines, we have the deep expertise to support this unprecedented effort to allow our nation to emerge from this pandemic."

Nursing home residents and health care workers have been given the highest priority to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

"Today’s rollout is the culmination of months of internal planning and demonstrates how the private sector can use its expertise to help solve some of our most critical challenges," CVS Health President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement"I’m grateful for the herculean efforts of everyone involved, including our health care professionals who will be deployed throughout the country to bring peace of mind to long-term care facility residents, staff and their loved ones."

CVS eventually will begin offering vaccines to the general public at locations across the country, with the goal of inoculating 20 to 25 million people per month.

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