CVS Health has expanded the number of locations that are offering COVID-19 vaccines, nearly doubling the number of states in which eligible patients can receive their shots through the health giant.
Through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program (FRPP), the company is now administering vaccines in roughly 1,200 stores across 29 states and Puerto Rico. States that were activated in the last week include Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah and Vermont.
They join states that have already been activated, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
WHAT'S THE IMPACT?
According to CVS data, its pharmacy teams have completed second doses at all skilled nursing facilities, and third and final visits are 90% complete. Second doses at assisted living and other facilities are 91% complete, with more than half of third and final visits complete. That's good for about 45 million vaccine doses overall to date.
Appointments in the newly activated states and jurisdictions will start to become available for booking on Saturday, March 13. Vaccines in a retail setting are offered on an appointment-only basis via the company's website, app or by phone.
CVS Health began administering vaccine doses to residents and staff of long-term care facilities in late December.
THE LARGER TREND
On March 2, the Biden Administration announced that for the month of March, FRPP participants would prioritize vaccinating pre-K through 12 educators and staff, as well as childcare workers. From March 3 to March 10, this population accounted for more than 30% of COVID-19 vaccine appointments at CVS Pharmacy locations.
Since late 2020, there has been a dramatic drop in COVID-19 cases and deaths. In fact, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data, between December 20 and February 21 there has been a 94% decrease in COVID-19 cases, and an 84% decrease in COVID-19 deaths.
A study published in February showed that a combination of robust vaccination programs and strict physical distancing rules could avoid recurring peaks of COVID-19 without the need to rely on stay-at-home restrictions.
In the U.S., the sometimes Byzantine vaccine distribution process has been closely watched. In January, President Biden issued a number of executive orders aimed at ramping up production and supply, including invoking the Defense Production Act to secure supplies necessary for health workers responding to the pandemic.
In addition, Biden also issued an executive order to ensure a data-driven response to COVID-19 and future high-consequence public health threats. Consistent with this policy, the heads of all executive departments and agencies are to facilitate the gathering, sharing and publication of COVID-19-related data in coordination with the Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response.
ON THE RECORD
"We're increasing the number of active stores and expanding to additional states as fast as supply allows, with the capacity to administer 20-25 million shots per month," said Karen S. Lynch, president and CEO of CVS Health.
"We're also focused on priority populations, including vulnerable communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, as well as teachers and school support staff."