The first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine reached an Oklahoma nursing home on Tuesday.
CVS Health gave doses to residents and staff of The Lodge at Brookline in Oklahoma City under a partnership with the federal government that will see them serve 176 long-term care facilities in the state. The first shots were given to 89-year-old resident Frances Watland and registered nurse Pam Byers.
Nursing home residents and staff are in phase one of the state's vaccination plan. The Lodge is operated by the Diakonos Group, and CEO Scott Pilgrim said he’s disheartened by what he hears about COVID from many younger people.
"They say that COVID is only dangerous for the elderly or the infirm and, therefore, isn’t a big deal. Frankly, hearing that makes me sick, because the life of an elderly resident in a facility like this is no more or less valuable than my life, your life or anyone else’s life," Pilgrim said.
Oklahoma is one of 12 states first on the list for the CVS Health program to administer COVID-19 vaccines in long-term care facilities. The company estimates it will vaccinate 27,204 residents and staff in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in Oklahoma.
CVS Pharmacy teams will visit each long-term care facility three times to make sure residents and staff get their initial shots and boosters.
CVS Health Senior Vice President for Pharmacy Chris Cox said the groundwork was already in place for an effort that will cover 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico by Jan. 4.
"For starters, our Omnicare business unit is the largest provider of pharmacy services to long-term care facilities across the country. And in addition, our pharmacists and technicians and other support staff have experience both giving vaccinations within long-term care facilities as well as providing COVID tests, where we’re doing — you know, testing in over 1,400 long-term care facilities throughout the pandemic," Cox said.
The company's goal is vaccinating 4 million people in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities nationwide. CVS Caremark Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sree Chaguturu said the pharmacy chain was well-positioned for this vaccination effort and for eventual widespread vaccination.
"So, the Centers for Disease Control have a measure called social vulnerability index, and when we look at our stores, they’re equally split between very high vulnerability, high vulnerability, moderate and low. So, our stores are available across America, but they’re also equitably distributed," Chaguturu said.
CVS Health is an official provider in the Centers for Disease Control’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care program, meant to lessen the load facilities and local health departments face. Other partners are Walgreens and Managed Health Associates, Inc.
CVS Health estimates it will vaccinate 27,204 residents and staff across 176 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in Oklahoma. CVS Pharmacy teams will visit each long-term care facility three times to make sure residents and staff get their initial shots and boosters.