Feds unveil plan to get coronavirus shots to nursing homes

By | October 16, 2020

Federal health officials are unveiling a plan to get approved coronavirus shots to nursing home residents free of cost, with the aid of two national pharmacy chains

No vaccine has yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and the distribution program is contingent on that happening first.

The idea is to give hard-pressed states an all-inclusive system for vaccinating their most vulnerable residents, said Paul Mango, a senior policy adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services. “We are trying to eliminate all potential barriers to getting folks safe and effective vaccines,” Mango said.

People in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities account for less than 1% of the U.S. population, but they account for about 40% of the deaths from COVID-19, with more than 83,600 fatalities logged by the COVID Tracking Project.

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Vaccines will be on their way to nursing homes within 24 to 48 hours after the FDA approves their use, Mango said.

The effort is taking place under the auspices of Operation Warp Speed, a White House-backed effort to quickly produce and distribute hundreds of millions of doses of approved vaccines, enough for every American.

Mango said he anticipates that if a vaccine is approved this year, initial supplies would be limited. Availability will improve markedly in the first three months of 2021, he said.

HHS is fielding an online survey for nursing homes to assess their interest in the program, but the allocation of vaccines will be done through state and territorial governments.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities will not be charged for the program. CVS and Walgreens will be reimbursed for administering the shots at standard Medicare rates, officials said.

ABC News: Health