“We’re emphasizing our areas to move the vaccine from the freezer to Oklahoma, preferably within seven days,” said Keith Reed, deputy commissioner of the Oklahoma Health Department. “And this vaccine is actually just sitting right now.”
Every state except West Virginia has joined a federal nursing home vaccination program set up by the Trump administration to protect people who are particularly susceptible to the coronavirus. Some states have complained about the pace of the program, although retail photo giants CVS and Walgreens said Monday they have met their goal of completing the first round of vaccinations in nursing homes.
Countries that are reviewing their distribution have said they are correcting the supply mismatch, now that many countries have released vaccinations for people aged 65 and over and other high-risk groups. Their new strategy also comes when the Biden administration says it is working to unravel conflicting information about vaccine supplies in the country, as states warn that their doses remain, while data show that many are still on the shelves.
Utah is stopping new shipments to long-term care facilities this week and instead redistributing 8,775 shots to local health departments and other providers, said health department spokesman Tom Hudachko.
“We are not looking at this as a result of CVS or Walgreens failing to meet their obligations,”
Minnesota is withdrawing 30,000 doses from the long-term care program, which will instead focus on vaccinating newly selected teachers and care providers, a state spokesman said. Maine has transferred about 3,400 doses of CVS and Walgreens to hospitals and independent pharmacies. Michigan is sending 120,000 shots to other providers, which were originally intended for long-term care facilities, according to Lynn Satfin, a spokesman for the health department.
States stressed that the review of the distribution – which two government officials said must be signed by the federal government – will not hamper the ability of pharmacies to vaccinate nursing homes and assisted living communities. CVS and Walgreens spokespersons confirmed that in some cases, pharmacies had received more vaccines than they needed and were working with states to determine how best to restore or postpone those doses.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also helping countries with redistribution, a spokesman said.
“Now that pharmacies have made significant progress in direct vaccination efforts in more than 70,000 long-term care facilities across the country – and we have a better idea of how much supply is needed to complete the vaccination of these medically fragile residents and frontline personnel who care for them – we work with pharmaceutical and jurisdictional partners to reduce or temporarily pause these allocations where appropriate, ”said the agency’s spokesman.
LeadingAge, an association of non-profit aging service providers, has not heard of redistributed doses being diverted from residents or staff who are already scheduled to receive vaccines. However, spokeswoman Lisa Sanders said the group would monitor how countries change their plans.
“Our main concern is that older people and the people who care for them have priority because they haven’t been through this whole pandemic,” Sanders said. “If the redistribution means that they will not be prioritized, that would be worrying.”