Many Americans logged on to websites before sunrise, waiting in long lines and for hours to get Covid vaccinations.
In a nursing home, however, the experience was mixed: about 60 percent of staff in long-term care facilities rejected the shots, said Rick Gates, vice president of pharmacy and health at Walgreens. According to him, about 20% of residents have refused vaccinations.
“We have seen vaccine hesitation – especially among those working in these facilities – it was higher than we expected,” CNBC said at a Healthy Return virtual event on Tuesday.
Walgreens and CVS Health have been selected by the federal government to administer vaccinations to residents and staff at thousands of long-term care facilities in the country. Nursing homes and assisted living residents were on the priority list in addition to health workers, as they had a disproportionate number of Covid-19 epidemics and deaths.
Rejected vaccines signal another challenge that the country will face, especially if pharmacies and community clinics receive multiple doses: Convincing the majority of Americans to obtain a life-saving vaccine that will help protect the general public and allow the economy to gradually return to some degree to normalcy.
Gates said unnecessary vaccinations from long-term care facilities were eventually returned to the states or given to other privileged people.
Starting Friday, Walgreens will offer vaccines in select stores in 15 states under the jurisdiction of the cities of Chicago and New York as part of 15 federal pharmacy programs. Vaccines will be given to key groups in stores, such as older Americans or those with health conditions.
Gates said the pharmacy chain is eager to play a bigger role in the vaccination effort, but said “the availability of vaccines is the biggest hurdle.” He said he expects the portions to be more widely available to the general public at all Walgreens stores in late March or early April.
Judy Druint will be vaccinated by pharmacist Joe Borge on February 1, 2021, in Danvers, MA. On the first day of Phase 2 of COVID-19, seniors aged 75 years or older will be vaccinated at Walgreens Pharmacy, 107 High Street. , In Danvers.
Pat Greenhouse | Boston Globe | Getty Images