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Pharmacies Begin Vaccinating Idaho’s Long-term Care Residents And Staff

Indiana Public Media

Starting today, employees from two major pharmacy chains will fan out across Idaho to vaccinate long-term care residents and staff.




CVS, Walgreens and a handful of smaller pharmacies in other states are participating in an end-to-end vaccination program with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pharmacies receive shipments of the vaccine themselves and their pharmacists deliver and administer the doses at care facilities. 


“Some facilities already have a date of when the pharmacist will arrive at their facility; most are waiting for a definitive date,” said Robert Vande Merwe, the executive director of the Idaho Health Care Association, which represents long-term care centers.


According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, 319 of the approximate 400 long-term care centers in Idaho, or about 80%, have elected to participate in the pharmacy vaccination program. 


If facilities didn’t sign up, they might have partnerships with a local pharmacy, versus the national chains, or a hospital, clinic or health district to get their residents vaccinated. 


Some health districts even indicated that doses in the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine, which began rolling out the week of Dec. 14, were allocated for long-term care residents and staff. 


Either way, Vande Merwe said, vaccinating all residents and staff will take some time.


“It’ll be an ongoing effort for new employees, for new residents, for those that were out of the facility, or staff who were quarantined and weren’t allowed to come to the facility at that time,” he said.


Idaho was able to “activate” the pharmacy partnership by making sure it had enough doses on-hand to vaccinate a quarter of the 29,820 long-term care residents and staff that the CDC estimates live and work in the state. 


Last week, Idaho set aside 7,800 out of 9,750 doses in the second Pfizer shipment (which had been reduced by about 45% from earlier expectations) for the long-term care pharmacy partnership. Idaho is likely to receive 9,750-dose shipments from Pfizer for three more consecutive weeks. Each of those weeks, the state will direct 7,800 doses to the pharmacy partnership, according to Niki Forbing-Orr, the public information manager for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. That leaves about 20% of the Pfizer doses, along with the Moderna shipments, for Idaho’s health care workers. 


About 40% of Idaho’s COVID-19 deaths are associated with long-term care facilities. Their residents and staff are in the highest priority group for the vaccine, along with health care workers.


Follow Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen for more local news.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.

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