As many of our readers know, long-term care residents were slated to be among the very first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when the federal government announced its phased rollout in December. And, as you may also know, vaccine distribution to senior living communities has been inconsistent and slower than expected. It’s also true that in some states, local health departments are able to offer vaccinations to senior individuals while major pharmacy chains such as CVS and Walgreen’s in those states are not.
What’s going on? To help sort through the confusion, here’s what you need to know about vaccine distribution in senior communities—and what Five Star Senior Living is doing to address factors beyond our control to make sure everyone in our communities can get vaccinated as soon as possible.
- We were prepared. CVS is our vaccine distribution partner. Well before the rollout, Five Star reserved enough COVID-19 vaccine doses through CVS for all team member and residents in our communities.
- The best-laid plans …. However, it became clear that the federal government had overestimated its ability to obtain and distribute sufficient quantities of the vaccine. That’s when state health agencies stepped in to regulate and oversee allocation distribution.
- CVS and Walgreens are awaiting full supplies. As a result, many state health agencies have received and now offer vaccinations to senior individuals. At the same time, CVS and Walgreens, which contracted with the federal government to be key vaccine distributors, await their full vaccine allotments. The companies have been informed that during the current Phase 1a, they may not offer vaccine clinics to independent living communities.
- Allocation priorities vary by state. Almost universally, skilled nursing facilities and healthcare workers have been on the priority list to receive the vaccine. Less consistent among states is the allocation for assisted living residents. As of mid-January, eight states have not yet activated a vaccine distribution plan for assisted living: Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Wisconsin.
What Five Star is doing to overcome vaccine delays
To help overcome potential delays, Five Star communities, wherever possible, are actively encouraging team members to go to local health agencies if they can be vaccinated there sooner. Additionally, these communities are proactively researching where independent living residents can obtain vaccinations nearby and are arranging for transportation so that they, too, can be vaccinated sooner.
Our goal for everyone to receive the COVID-19 vaccine remains unchanged
All of us at Five Star want to see everyone in our communities receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. We are doing everything we can to overcome supply shortages and distribution inconsistencies that have been outside of our control. We’re committed to keeping our communities safe as well as happy—and of course we will continue to update you as we learn more.
Have other questions? Check out our extensive COVID-19 FAQ for more vaccine information.