Since March, pharmacy technician Alysses Goree and her colleagues have administered thousands of COVID-19 tests and flu vaccines in nursing homes across Houston.
With long-term care facilities accounting for nearly 40% of COVID-19 deaths, residents long for safer environments – and their families, she says. “It’s heartbreaking. All they want is a conversation and a hug.”
With Monday’s nationwide rollout of the first COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech, help is finally arriving.
Retail pharmacies like CVS Pharmacy will play a critical role in vaccinating Americans on a massive scale. “We are 100% staffed right now for long-term care facilities,” Goree says of her local team. “We’re prepared, we understand the environment and we’re going out to help save peoples’ lives and help them see their families.”
CVS Pharmacy was selected to administer COVID-19 vaccinations by more than 40,000 long-term care facilities.
“We're really excited to be a critical part of providing these services to a majority of the facilities in the country,” says Dr. Sree Chaguturu, Chief Medical Officer of Caremark at CVS Health.
The company will also help deliver vaccines to the general public later in 2021 at no charge to patients. About 70% of Americans live within three miles of a CVS Pharmacy.
As a company that shifted during 2020 to meet people where they are, CVS Health is uniquely prepared for this pivotal moment. This year, the company will administer nearly 20 million vaccines and has delivered more than 9 million COVID-19 tests at over 4,300 drive-thru sites and mobile walk-in kiosks nationwide, many within underserved communities. It also created a digital scheduling system and hired thousands of pharmacists and technicians.
“We've learned a lot from the COVID-19 testing process that we're going to pull forward as part of the COVID-19 vaccination process,” says Sree.
The same digital app created to schedule tests and flu shots, for example, will provide online scheduling for both doses of the vaccine.
“Think of it like a round-trip ticket that ensures a seamless experience when you walk into a CVS Pharmacy,” Sree explains. “In five minutes or so, you will be able to get your vaccine, a bandage, and be on your way.”
The moment feels historic, says Goree. “Thirty years from now, I will be able to say that I helped save lives during the pandemic. I’m so proud.”