Governor Mike Parson, pharmacy firms agree: COVID vaccine doses won’t go to waste

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — Gov. Mike Parson said the state is prepared to use the thousands of unused doses of vaccine from the federal partnership between two major pharmacies and long-term care facilities.

Long-term care facilities throughout the country partnered with pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate residents and staff. Our Missouri Chief Capitol Bureau Reporter Emily Manley looked into the numbers those pharmacies originally requested and it turns out they’ve administered less than 20 percent.

Parson said Thursday Missouri is taking the unused doses of vaccine from the pharmacies.

“What happened there, is Walgreens and CVS, and not just here in Missouri, all across the country, probably overestimated what they can actually deliver,” Parson said. “We did get permission this week to take some of the doses, whatever amount we felt deemed necessary to take those doses back and put them into our system.”

According to the Department of Health and Senior Services, 332,000 doses were given to the pharmacies to use for the federal program, which started Dec. 28. As of Friday, the CDC reports 64,532 doses have been given. CVS and Walgreens keeping a running tally online, as of Friday, CVS has administered 43,007 and Walgreen has given 30,218. That’s a total of 73,225.

A Walgreens corporate spokesperson sent a statement saying:

As facilities registered for the CDC’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, they provided an estimate on how many vaccines they would need. In states or jurisdictions where the number of vaccines needed for the Long-Term Care Program is trending lower than what facilities initially requested, we are working with states and jurisdictions to determine how they would like to re-allocate those vaccines, which may include expanding vaccinations to additional prioritized individuals in our stores or returning the vaccine to the state to administer according to their needs. We are working hand-in-hand with states to achieve the shared goal of vaccinating our most vulnerable populations as quickly as possible.

Walgreens has completed first dose clinics in all 194 skilled nursing facilities in Missouri that selected Walgreens as their vaccine provider. We have also administered first dose vaccine clinics in over 300 assisted living facilities and are on track to complete all 410 by the end of the month. We are operating in compliance with the plan and the timeline Missouri submitted, which was approved by the CDC.

Walgreens Statement

CVS responded by saying:

The federal government based COVID-19 vaccine allotments on facility bed count and then doubled that number to estimate facility staff. The total allocation number does not reflect the actual amount of vaccine ordered and used for a clinic at a facility. True resident occupancy has generally been less than the bed count number used to estimate allocation, and staff uptake has also been lower than expected.

Our pharmacy teams draw down doses weekly for only the amount needed for the coming week’s long-term care facility clinics. Vaccine is ordered directly from the federal stockpile held for the state, and those doses are shipped directly to our depot stores. If we project our vaccine allotment exceeds what’s needed, we work with the state to redirect an appropriate portion of that allocation so it’s repurposed elsewhere. In most cases, excess doses aren’t in our possession since they were only an initial projection.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s decision to transfer vaccine from the long-term care pharmacy partnership to other vaccine providers in the state helps ensure these valuable doses are put to best use, as other governors have done. We look forward to continuing to partner with the state on this important initiative, and to complete vaccinations at our more than 600 long-term care partner facilities where residents and staff are eager to return to normalcy.

CVS Statement

According to CVS’s website, the company has completed the first doses of the vaccine in all 277 skilled-nursing facilities who partnered with them, with 18 percent of patients taking their second dose. CVS has also completed 96 percent of the first doses in all 332 assisted living facilities they partnered with.

Walgreens has completed both the first and second dose of all 194 skilled nursing facilities they are partnered with, while 86 percent, of the 408 assisted living facilities who partnered with them are vaccinated.

Earlier this week in the weekly vaccine planning meeting for the state, Parson’s deputy chief of staff told providers to use every vaccine they have.

“This comes from the Governor, if you have inventory of vaccine at the present time, please be putting that into an eligible Missourians arm,” Robert Knodell said. “It is so so very important. It will impact your ability to receive initial vaccine for your community in the future.”

The state hired a Virginia-based company to help with Missouri’s response to COVID-19. A principal from the company was the presenter in the meeting.

“There is still a significant number of providers who are not reporting the vaccine,” Ted Delicath said. “That’s a problem for a lot of reasons. If we cannot see what vaccine you have in your inventory, we are more than likely not going to send you more.”

Delicath said during the meeting the state will soon start to release who has the vaccine on hand that is older than seven days on the state’s vaccine dashboard.

As of Thursday, the state has been given 822,850 and as of Friday, Missouri has administered 457,440, with multiple mass vaccinations sites set to be open this weekend around the state. Parson said those sites can administered up to 2,500 a day, per site.

Sources said there was a meeting Friday afternoon between vaccination providers, the state and medical community. When Manley reached out to ask what was discussed, she was told no details could be released at this time, but there will be an announcement next week.

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