CVS, Walgreens Vaccinating Nursing Homes a ‘Fiasco’

CVS, Walgreens Vaccinating Nursing Homes a 'Fiasco' walgreens pharmacy is shown with a woman walking by on the sidewalk (Karen Bleier/Getty Images)

By Eric Mack | Friday, 15 January 2021 10:41 AM

The federal pharmacy partnership with CVS and Walgreens is under fire for only administering about 25% of the COVID-19 vaccine doses into nursing homes around the country.

The partnership "has been a fiasco," according to Mississippi health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs to CNN, whose state has administered just 5% of the 90,000 vaccines due to staffing shortages.

"We're getting a lot of angry people because it's going so slowly, and we're unhappy too."

The federal partnership intended to mobilize CVS and Walgreens to help administer vaccines to the most vulnerable Americans and locales, but as Operation Warp Speed has been effective in distributing the vaccines, the vaccination rates have lagged.

"I'm about to go nuclear on this," California Association of Long Term Care Medicine's past president Dr. Michael Wasserman told CNN. "There should never be an excuse about people not getting vaccinated. There's no excuse for delays."

There have been 4.7 million of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines distributed, but only about 25% used to date, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A spokesperson for CVS Health rejected blame for the reported problems.

"Everything has gone as planned, save for a few instances where we've been challenged or had difficulties making contact with long-term care facilities to schedule clinics," CVS Health's Joe Goode told CNN.

Local officials complain paperwork and logistics have stalled the immunizations of the elderly at American nursing homes, which have already had staffing and coronavirus pandemic difficulties, per the report.

Also, the storage temperature demands of the Pfizer vaccine have caused problems in logistics.

Nursing homes have been particularly ravished by COVID-19, housing fewer than 1% of the U.S. population but accounting for 37% of the deaths from the virus, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Ultimately, there is a ramping up period for the vaccination program, according to Association of State and Territorial Health Officials' Dr. Marcus Plescia.

"There's a feeling they'll get up to speed with it and it will be helpful, as health departments are pretty overstretched," Plescia told CNN.