(Photo courtesy of CVS Health)
In response to expanded vaccine eligibility and an increasing supply, CVS Health has begun administering COVID-19 vaccines at employer-based vaccination clinics through a new initiative called Return Ready.
With vaccine hesitancy on the rise, federal and state governments are looking to partners in order to help make vaccines more convenient to access, and to enhance public education efforts.
As part of that push, CVS Health is managing employer vaccination clinics for 18 employers across 51 locations, which began with Delta Air Lines in February. The New York Shipping Association has worked with Return Ready to operate vaccination clinics that included the International Longshoremen's Association and its members. The City of Philadelphia is also working with Return Ready on vaccination clinics for all city employees.
Return Ready, first introduced as a customizable COVID-19 testing solution in June 2020, now includes COVID-19 vaccination options, in addition to clinical protocols, digital scheduling tools and detailed reporting, to meet the worksite needs of employers.
As part of the vaccination offering, CVS Health is responsible for administering vaccinations at onsite clinics with trained healthcare staff who can also answer patient questions about the vaccine and direct them to appropriate resources.
Until recently, CVS Health administered vaccines for employers that directly secured allocation from their state government. With eligibility expanded and vaccine supply increasing, the organization is now able to help employers obtain a vaccine supply where available.
According to a recent CVS Health white paper, given the ongoing spread of the virus as vaccines continue to be rolled out, prompt diagnosis through testing and isolation is still the foundation for limiting the spread of the virus.
WHAT'S THE IMPACT?
Vaccines are seen as the key to achieving the herd immunity necessary to end the pandemic. Herd immunity is achieved when a critical mass of the population receives a vaccine, making virus transmission more difficult and slowing its spread.
CVS Health's vaccine push mirrors the efforts of other organizations that have made it their mission to increase supply and promote vaccine uptake in the U.S. and elsewhere. For example, Moderna, manufacturer of one of the three main COVID-19 vaccines being circulated in the U.S., said last week it's making new funding commitments to increase supply, which the company said will increase globally to three billion doses by 2022.
THE LARGER TREND: PROJECT HEALTH
The final week of April was a busy one for CVS Health, which also launched an expansion of Project Health, a no-cost, community-based screening program that helps people without regular access to healthcare understand their risk for chronic conditions – and connect to free or low-cost providers and services.
This will be the 16th year of Project Health events. This year, the focus will be on an expansion into 14 new metro markets and the addition of four new mobile units to help bring these health screenings closer to areas of significant need. Between April and December, CVS Health anticipates hosting more than 1,700 Project Health screening events in a total of 32 metro markets across the country.
The new metro areas the project will expand into include Phoenix; Cleveland; Birmingham, Alabama; Jacksonville, Orlando and Tallahassee, Florida; New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Charlotte, North Carolina; Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina; and Knoxville and Memphis, Tennessee.
Last year, CVS Health invested nearly $600 million in initiatives intended to address inequality faced by Black people and other disenfranchised communities. The expansion of Project Health is the latest in these efforts to address social determinants of health that exist alongside racial and economic inequities.
Since its inception in 2006, Project Health has delivered more than $134 million in free healthcare services to over one million Americans in diverse communities with large numbers of uninsured or underinsured people, according to CVS Health.