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On October 16, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) announced agreements with CVS and Walgreens to provide and administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs) nationwide with no out-of-pocket costs. Protecting especially vulnerable Americans has been a critical part of the Trump Administration’s work to combat COVID-19, and LTCF residents may be part of the prioritized groups for initial COVID-19 vaccination efforts until there are enough doses available for every American who wishes to be vaccinated.

The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program provides complete management of the COVID-19 vaccination process. This means LTCF residents and staff across the country will be able to safely and efficiently get vaccinated once vaccines are available and recommended for them, if they have not been previously vaccinated. It will also minimize the burden on LTCF sites and jurisdictional health departments of vaccine handling, administration and fulfilling reporting requirements.   

The program is:

  • Free of charge to facilities
  • Available for residents in all LTC settings, including skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), nursing homes, assisted living facilities (ALFs), residential care homes and adult family homes
  • Available to all remaining LTCF staff members who have not been previously vaccinated for COVID-19 (e.g., through satellite, temporary, or off-site clinics)
  • Available in most rural areas that may not have an easily accessible pharmacy

HHS is using multiple authorities to ensure appropriate reimbursement for these services and that no American being vaccinated for COVID-19 will have to pay out-of-pocket.

Opting in to Vaccination Support?

Effective October 19, 2020 LTCFs are now able to opt in and indicate which pharmacy partner their facility prefers to have on site. LTCFs are not mandated to participate in this program and can request their current pharmacy contracts to support COVID-19 vaccination. Nursing homes can sign up via the National Healthcare Safety Network and ALFs can sign up via an online survey they will receive. 

To ensure success of this program, HHS and OWS will continue coordination with jurisdictions, LTCFs, and federal partners including the CMS, and expand engagement with professional organizations.

Immunization with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is a critical component of the nation’s strategy to reduce COVID-19-related illness, hospitalizations, and deaths. Early in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, there may be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine, and vaccination efforts may focus on those critical to the response, those providing direct care, and those at highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19, including long-term care facility residents.

Currently there are no COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized or approved by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.  However, the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program is being established in anticipation that one or more COVID-19 vaccines will be available before the end of 2020.

To read the full announcement from HHS, click here.

By RehabCare