Marking a milestone in the pandemic’s unprecedented mass vaccination effort, retail pharmacy giants CVS Health and Walgreens have wrapped up their Phase 1 onsite clinics in long-term care facilities. Their LTC pharmacy cohorts Omnicare and PharMerica now are focusing on smaller-scale, continuing vaccinations within skilled nursing facilities and assisted living communities.

Image of James R. Love, president, Omnicare
James R. Love, president, Omnicare

Since COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out in December, CVS Health and Omnicare have administered more than 4.6 million vaccines to residents and staff at more than 40,000 facilities, Omnicare President Jim Love announced in a Wednesday Linkedin post. Walgreens, meanwhile, completed its clinics in mid-March after administering more than 250,000 shots in 2,000 facilities since Dec. 21, according to T.J. Griffin, RPh, PharMerica’s chief pharmacy officer. 

Walgreens and CVS since have pivoted to in-store mass vaccination, while PharMerica and Omnicare are putting new models in place to continue delivering shots in long-term care facilities as part of an expanded federal retail pharmacy program. 

Omnicare has launched a concierge service, in partnership with CVS Pharmacy, that allows ambulatory residents and staff members from its supported facilities to schedule in-store vaccine appointments. It also is planning to unveil a new distribution model that will enable its LTC facility customers to administer vaccines directly to residents and staff members, Love announced.

“[T]hese two solutions offer the flexibility to address the local and unique needs of our customers and further expand Omnicare’s position as a key partner to them in the fight against COVID-19,” he stated.

Image of T.J. Griffin, chief pharmacy officer, PharMerica
T.J. Griffin, chief pharmacy officer, PharMerica

PharMerica switched to its new model March 15, taking the reins from Walgreens as part of the federal Phase 2 vaccine rollout, Griffin told the McKnight’s Clinical Daily. Like many U.S. pharmacies that serve long-term care facilities, PharMerica is an approved partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s continuing vaccine effort. It has since provided 15,000 doses in its partner facilities with at least that many more orders left to fill, Griffin added.

“We are able to provide end-to-end service for our customers, including all of the stringent storage and transportation requirements and the stringent state and federal CDC reporting requirements,” Griffin said. “We have vaccinators that come to the facilities and operate clinics just as Walgreens did during Phase 1.”

The company also will handle these requirements for facilities that are able to administer the vaccines themselves.   

This is a new undertaking for PharMerica, Griffin said. “We feel it is our responsibility to our long-term care communities and the community at large to be there for them.”

Smaller-scale clinics 

PharMerica’s ongoing clinics serve new and late-deciding facility residents and workers on a smaller scale now that most residents have been vaccinated, Griffin said. Facility operators should know that preparation is key for a successful clinic, and have an exact number of people to be vaccinated in mind, he added. 

“If you report to a pharmacy that you have 20 folks [to be vaccinated], we will come to a community with 20 doses. If someone opts out at the last minute, we like a facility to have a back-up list of folks so there is no waste. This has been a very successful approach,” Griffin said. 

Now that Americans over age 16 or 18 can be vaccinated depending on the vaccine, PharMerica is willing to administer shots to friends, family or facility vendors, he added.

The pharmacy services provider also is working with home health agencies and other community-based agencies to provide similar services.