Nurse applying vaccine on patient's arm wearing face mask

U.S. pharmacy retailers CVS Health and Walgreens both expect to be done with administering the first doses of coronavirus vaccines at long-term care facilities by the end of January. 

CVS and Walgreens executives said the companies expect to complete the initial rounds of vaccination in both nursing homes and assisted living facilities by Jan. 25, despite the slow rollout vaccine program, they both announced Wednesday. 

Both companies have been administering vaccines to residents and staff in skilled nursing facilities across 49 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, and expect to expand the program to assisted living and other long-term care facilities next week. 

“Since receiving our first allotments of vaccines in late December, Walgreens has remained on track in vaccinating our most vulnerable populations, and we are steadfast in our commitment to accelerating access to COVID-19 vaccines as we receive additional guidance from state governments and jurisdictions,” Walgreens President John Standley said in a statement.

CVS Health President and CEO Larry Merlo added that its work with long-term care facilities isn’t just a mass vaccination effort.

“We’re dealing with a vulnerable population that requires onsite and, in some cases, in-room visits at facilities with fewer than 100 residents on average. Despite these challenges, we remain on schedule, and the number of vaccines we administer will continue to rise as more facilities are activated by the states,” Merlo explained. 

New figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Monday showed that less than 15% of COVID-19 vaccine doses distributed to long-term care facilities through the federal program have actually been administered to residents and employees.

CVS noted that the reporting data may be outdated by 48 to 72 hours. The company also added that while the percentage of residents taking the vaccine “remains encouragingly high,” the actual number of residents in nursing homes is about 20% to 30% lower than facility projections, which were based on bed count. 

“Initial uptake among staff is low, part of which is likely due to facilities wanting to stagger vaccinations between visits,” the company explained.