CVS Well being has 10,000 staff able to vaccinate seniors in nursing properties
Larry Merlo, chief executive of CVS Health, said the company was ready to deliver “vaccines into the arms of some of our most vulnerable populations” within 24 to 48 hours of receiving its share of Covid-19 vaccines.
“We are ready to go. We are in great shape and as I mentioned, people are excited to be an important part of this solution,” Merlo said in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Thursday.
Health care workers, as well as residents and long-term care workers, should be the first to be eligible for Covid-19 vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The decision of who gets the shots first is ultimately made by states and jurisdictions.
Merlo said the company has 10,000 health professionals ready to take the shots in nursing homes and assisted living centers. He said the company had “hired individuals” to help with Covid-19 testing since this pandemic began. And he added it had experience with seasonal flu vaccinations in long-term care facilities.
“Pending approval, I’m confident we’ll be in thousands of facilities before the Christmas holidays,” he said.
The government signed a contract with CVS and Walgreens in October to give the coronavirus vaccinations to residents and employees of long-term care facilities across the country. The vaccines are free and are administered in on-site clinics at each location, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Over 40,000 long-term care facilities in the United States have selected CVS to provide vaccinations in their long-term care facilities. Nationwide, around 30,000 qualified nursing and assisted living have selected Walgreens as their vaccine provider.
As part of the massive effort, CVS and Walgreens had to ensure they had enough staff to fan into the centers and expedite the process.
Merlo said the company has reached out to pharmacy schools to find and recruit pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns. He said there are also hired health professionals who are retired but still have their licenses and are willing to work part-time.
He said all CVS pharmacies already have refrigerators and freezers that can store five of the six vaccine candidates at the right temperature. He said only one of the six vaccine candidates – Pfizer’s – would require special storage.
The Pfizer vaccine will be distributed in special thermal mailers that can help achieve a 15-day life cycle, Merlo said. It can then be stored for an additional five days in the drugstore’s typical refrigeration facility, which can either freeze or chill, he said.
The coronavirus pandemic, which continues to spiral out of control in the United States, has made more than 15 million Americans sick and killed more than 286,000 people to date, according to Johns Hopkins University.