Good News: CVS and Walgreens Have Put 5.9 Million Coronavirus-Vaccine Shots in Nursing Homes

Policy

A nurse prepares a dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at the Bathgate Post Office vaccination facility in Bronx, N.Y., January 10, 2021. (Kevin Hagen/Pool via Reuters)

The good news is that bit by bit, day by day, that stack of millions of distributed but not-yet-administered coronavirus-vaccine doses gets a little smaller. At the beginning of the month, it was around 20 million; yesterday morning, it was 17.2 million by the New York Times’ numbers, and this morning, it is down to 16.6 million. (Unfortunately, on the Bloomberg chart, it inched up a little, from 15.4 million to 15.54 million.)

I’ve heard some people complaining that a big portion of the backlog stems from CVS and Walgreens having a sluggish start to their efforts to vaccinate nursing homes, assisted-living centers, and other health providers. In late January, the two drugstore chains appeared to be at least a month behind schedule.

For what it’s worth, CVS says that as of 4 p.m. yesterday, the company has administered 100 percent of the first doses and 97 percent of the second doses in 7,822 “skilled nursing facilities” — and 90 percent of the first doses and 47 percent of the second doses in 37,958 “assisted living and other [long-term care] facilities.” (The two categories are classified differently depending upon the level of care residents require.) That adds up to 3.56 million doses injected into arms so far.

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Walgreens measures its vaccination progress differently, but as of Monday, the company had administered 2.33 million doses at 5,545 “skilled nursing facilities” and 20,437 “assisted living and other [long-term care] facilities.” The two companies together have administered almost 5.9 million vaccination shots so far.

A lot of our vaccine rollout has been in fits and starts and been extraordinarily frustrating, but this progress represents a major accomplishment of protecting the most vulnerable first. According to the Covid Tracking Project, fewer than one percent of Americans live in long-term care facilities, but as of February 11, long-term care facility residents made up 36 percent of U.S. COVID-19 deaths — 166,403 deaths.

New York State has suffered 14,155 deaths in long-term care facilities, the highest total of any state, and 1,646 deaths ahead of the state with the second-highest total, California. But deaths in those facilities were 39 percent of the state’s total COVID-19 deaths, putting New York around the middle of the pack among all 50 states. Florida has 9,975 deaths in long-term care facilities, ranking fifth in the nation. About 35 percent of the state’s total COVID-19 deaths occurred in these kinds of facilities.

The state with the highest percentage of COVID-19 deaths occurring in long-term care facilities is New Hampshire, where 790 out of 1,117 total deaths occurred in those facilities. The state with the lowest percentage of COVID-19 deaths occurring in long-term care facilities is Alaska, where 7 out of 280 total deaths occurred in those facilities.

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