State stepping in to vaccinate some nursing homes

COVID-19 Vaccine

DENVER (KDVR) — The pace for vaccinating nursing homes and other long-term care facilities isn’t good enough for Colorado’s governor. The state is stepping in to help vaccinate a handful of facilities that should be covered by a federal program.

“No, we’re not pleased, and we could have done it quicker,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “The one piece the federal government did through direct contracts, so nursing homes, long-term care facilities. It’s not up to states — it’s up to a federal contract with CVS and Walgreens, and they are going much slower than they anticipated.”

The governor’s office reached out to 30 long-term care facilities to get vaccinations sooner. Eleven wanted to keep their current scheduled plan with pharmacy providers, but the state’s health department is working with the rest to develop plans to vaccinate residents and staff.

“We could have gotten them all within a week or two, probably two weeks ago,” Polis said.

Many facilities still haven’t received their first dose. 

According to the latest data from CVS and Walgreens, the companies have administered first doses to 65% and 68% of their respective partnered facilities. 

“For people in nursing homes, long-term care facilities, people over 70, this is an extremely deadly virus,” Polis said. “It can strike down any of us, even in our prime, but the odds are much worse when you’re in your 70s and 80s.”

A spokesperson for Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says it expects both pharmacies to administer first doses to every facility by the end of January.

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