A woman is given a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center at Triton College in River Grove, Illinois on February 3, 2021.
Kamil Krzaczynski | AFP | Getty Images
Dozens of states and cities are reclaiming thousands of additional doses of the Covid-19 vaccine that were supposed to be used by CVS and Walgreens to immunize nursing home residents through a federal partnership set up by the Trump administration.
The partnership, known as the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, enabled states to use CVS, Walgreens, and other retail pharmacies to vaccinate nursing home residents and workers. According to Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal government has urged states to allocate “adequate vaccine supplies” to the program if they choose to do so.
But now the program has been left with “surplus vaccine supplies” withdrawing at least 32 states and cities from the program and With for the general public, said Nordlund. She added that a combination of vaccine reluctance, overestimation of the number of doses needed for the campaign, and other factors led to this an oversupply of Shots.
“Now that pharmacies have made significant strides in vaccinating the population of long-term care facilities – and we have more insight into admission to facilities that have entered the program – we are working with jurisdictions to ensure they are using excess vaccines without problems can target other audiences, “Nordlund said in a statement to CNBC.
The federal partnership program has caused a headache for some state health officials. While The pace has increased over the past few weeks, and the partnership started sluggishly in December. States had to allocate doses for the program at the beginning of the rollout, so the slow pace has created frustration and the appearance that states cannot manage their recordings.
As part of the partnership, more than 4.2 million vaccine doses had been administered as of Thursday, according to the CDC. The CDC estimates that there are nearly 5 million residents and workers in long-term care in the United States.
It’s not exactly clear how many doses will be withdrawn from the program, but Illinois, for example, announced this week that 97,000 doses will be withdrawn from the program.
Cans in advance
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said states would need to “schedule significant doses” for the program in the first three weeks of the vaccine launch. The partnership should be completed in six weeks, he added, but “it has now slipped into many, many more weeks”.
The slow roll-out of this program, Shah said, has made the data look like Maine is keeping cans on the shelf and not managing all of the footage it has been distributing, when the state actually needs more cans, no less. He added that the state is now taking back doses allocated for the federal partnership.
“In Maine, we don’t sit around waiting for these doses to be used only on the schedule that retail pharmacies tell us,” he said on a conference call organized by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “Indeed, we are starting to remove these cans from the warehouses and put them into general circulation.”
Dr. Reiterating Shah’s frustration, Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi Department of Health’s health officer, said Mississippi must provide “the vast majority of our vaccine allocation” in advance of the federal program. The problem with the program wasn’t just its pace, said Michael Fraser, CEO of ASTHO, on the conference call, but also the number of doses states should allow for it.
“We had to assign everything in advance and it was idle long, long,” he said.
TJ Crawford, a spokesperson for CVS Health, said in an email to CNBC that the allocation of doses for the program is done by counting the number of beds in all long-term care facilities in participating states and multiplying by two to give staff to consider. He explained that some states are now in surplus because “occupancy is far below the number of beds and staffing levels remain low”.
The CDC’s Nordlund said the agency continues to work with states and jurisdictions to get a clearer picture of how many doses might be needed in the future.
“In some facilities, pharmacy partners were given the option to receive six doses from the Pfizer five-dose vials due to several factors including vaccine reluctance, active Covid-19 outbreaks, which affected the number of eligible patients received, and an excess vaccine supply due to lower than expected levels, occupancy of the facility, especially during the winter holidays, “she said.
Rick Gates, senior vice president of pharmacies at Walgreens, said in a statement to CNBC that the program is accelerating rapidly despite a slower initial start.
“Walgreens has completed first-dose vaccinations in approximately 75 percent of all long-term care facilities and remains on track to complete first-doses in all facilities where Walgreens was selected as a vaccine provider through mid-February,” he said. “Walgreens has implemented or planned nearly 70,000 long-term care clinics.”