Some long-term care stakeholders might question parts of the new federal-private partnership that will ultimately offer COVID-19 vaccination materials to every certified nursing home and other senior care facility in the nation.

But one thing that’s not been questioned is the fact that PharMerica exec T.J. Griffin is a big reason that long-term care pharmacies have much of a presence at all in the administration’s Operation Warp Speed efforts to distribute free vaccines to vulnerable seniors. 

PharMerica exec T.J. Griffin

Griffin is the senior vice president of LTC operations and chief pharmacy officer for PharMerica. He has also served as an adviser and representative of the LTC pharmacy industry to Operation Warp Speed.

“Our voices have been heard from, including our independent living residents and intermediate care facilities to helping folks understand the current challenges long-term care facilities face, from staffing to census to reporting,” Griffin told McKnight’s. He added that successfully deploying the vaccine “is the key to continued health and growth of our sector.” 

Walgreens and CVS Health, which is home to another long-term care pharmacy powerhouse, Omnicare, will be the major distribution partners in the federal program.

PharMerica is a division of BrightSpring Health, a privately owned company by KKR and Walgreens Boots Alliance.

“We continue to work with federal, state and local government and health officials, as well as long-term care facilities to support their needs,” Walgreens said of the collaboration. “With our nationwide footprint, extensive vaccine experience, trusted community presence and the empathetic expertise of our pharmacists, we are well-positioned to administer COVID-19 vaccines, once they become available, and help our nation emerge from this pandemic.”

Griffin was quick to add that “Much of this remains fluid and will depend on which vaccine is given an [Emergency Use Authorization] and whether the safety and efficacy data warrants its use in seniors.”

The deadline to complete the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine pharmacy partnership program survey has been extended to Nov. 6. 

“Walgreens has given over 60 million immunizations over the last ten years and the clinics will be managed with a high degree of professionalism and coordination. Our desire is to make this a seamless experience,” Griffin noted.

Walgreens will provide required reporting, including reporting to state registries on the immunization event, and clinic scheduling and/or offsite immunizations for staff and residents. It also will contribute vaccine supply ordering, inventory management and immunization administration as needed, Griffin noted.  

Walgreens officials said they are evaluating staffing requirements to ensure its teams can support the administration of COVID tests and vaccines. It currently has more than 27,000 Walgreens pharmacists trained to administer vaccines, Rick Gates, senior vice president, pharmacy and healthcare, told McKnight’s in an email. That number is growing as technicians gain authorization to administer vaccines in certain states, he added.