SALEM — Long-term care residents and staff began receiving COVID-19 vaccinations this week under a statewide rollout plan that prioritizes Oregonians who have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic.
Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more likely to suffer life-threatening health consequences if they contract the virus. Given that the virus is so contagious, the risks are particularly high for those who live in large group settings. Because of this, an estimated 22,425 vaccine doses are planned for nursing facilities, and as the rollout continues, additional doses will be allocated to assisted living and residential care facilities.
“From the first days of this pandemic, we have utilized strict infection control and visitation protocols to protect our most vulnerable Oregonians living in long-term care facilities,” said Governor Kate Brown. “With those measures have come great sacrifices, and too many long-term care residents have gone far too long without being able to truly connect with their closest family members and loved ones. It is one of the great tragedies of this pandemic that COVID-19 has been most deadly for our seniors living in long-term care. Even our most stringent policies have not been able to change that fact.
“Now, with shipments of COVID-19 vaccines on their way to Oregon every week, we are eager to inoculate every person in our long-term care facilities as swiftly as we can, to prevent more heartbreaking loss, and work towards the day that the residents who have sacrificed so much can reunite with their families once again.”
The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) are working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program to implement the COVID-19 vaccine plan in Oregon. The plan calls for the pharmacy partners involved ? Consonus Pharmacy, CVS and Walgreens ? to set up on-site vaccination clinics at the state’s long-term care facilities as well as smaller congregate care settings. Smaller congregate care settings include adult foster homes and group care homes.
“We are full of hope that this vaccination program will reduce the suffering and hardship experienced by long-term care residents, staff and their families,” said ODHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht. “While we are pleased with the speed at which the vaccination program is rolling out, it will take some time to reach all facilities. In the meantime, we must remain vigilant and continue strict infection control policies and practices.”
“This is a historic day for Oregonians who have suffered through this pandemic,” said Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen. “The partnerships that have made these vaccinations possible today speak to our singular focus to ensure these workers and residents are safe and healthy.”
Consonus, CVS and Walgreens will provide the FDA-approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to long-term care residents and staff. The first phase of distribution includes the state’s 130 nursing facilities. If a nursing facility has other types of licensed buildings on its campus, such as assisted living, the mobile clinics will include those buildings at the same time.
“We applaud Oregon Governor Kate Brown for recognizing the urgent need to prioritize our state’s seniors and their health care workers,” says Phil Fogg, president and CEO of Marquis Companies and the vice-chair of the American Health Care Association. “Governor Brown’s decision allows Marquis Companies and Consonus Pharmacy to combine and mobilize our 30 years of expertise caring for seniors, delivering high touch pharmaceutical services and our ability to operate with critical precision needed to provide these life-saving vaccinations. We’re humbled to be part of this historic campaign of delivering what we believe is one of the greatest scientific achievements in history.”
Consonus has prepared for the vaccine launch for more than nine months. It has a layered system of safeguards in place to validate each medication and monitor each recipient’s medication profiles. Specially trained, board-certified geriatric pharmacists constantly review possible drug interactions and appropriate dosing for the senior population, while also recommending changes to regimens. Nurse consultants develop and monitor medication management systems.
CVS Pharmacy teams will administer the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in facilities across 12 states this week, and the company expects to vaccinate up to four million residents and staff at over 40,000 long-term care facilities through the program.
“Today’s rollout is the culmination of months of internal planning and demonstrates how the private sector can use its expertise to help solve some of our most critical challenges,” said Larry J. Merlo, president and Chief Executive Officer, CVS Health. “I’m grateful for the herculean efforts of everyone involved, including our health care professionals who will be deployed throughout the country to bring peace of mind to long-term care facility residents, staff and their loved ones.”
Walgreens pharmacy team members will provide COVID-19 vaccinations at long-term care facilities across Oregon and 11 additional states this week, including many in rural and urban medically underserved areas.
“Walgreens is very proud to be a part of this historic milestone to begin administering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to our most vulnerable populations in Oregon and across the country,” said John Standley, president, Walgreens. “With more than a decade of experience administering various vaccines, we have the deep expertise to support this unprecedented effort to allow our nation to emerge from this pandemic.”
Long-term care facilities are part of the first phase of the statewide immunization campaign, which also includes hospitals, urgent care, nursing and memory care facilities, tribal health programs, emergency medical services providers and other first responders.