JPM21: CVS making 'good progress' in administering COVID-19 vaccines in nursing homes, Lynch says

CVS pharmacy
Incoming CVS Health CEO Karen Lynch and outgoing chief Larry Merlo spoke at the annual J.P. Morgan healthcare conference Tuesday. (Image: Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0)

CVS Health is on schedule in administering COVID-19 vaccines in long-term care facilities, incoming CEO Karen Lynch said Tuesday.

Lynch, speaking at the annual J.P. Morgan healthcare conference, said to date the company has held 8,000 clinics to administer vaccines and has given 700,000 shots. About 10% of COVID-19 vaccines administered so far have been provided by CVS, she said.

She said the team is coordinating with states and the feds to get vaccines into more than 44,000 such facilities, but the process is more complex than simply having clinicians walk in and administer shots.

States must activate long-term care facilities and then allocate vaccinations that can then be administered. Timelines have been staggered, with some states starting the process in December and others still activating facilities now.

However, she said, the process is moving forward, and CVS expects to have provided the first round of doses in nearly all of its contracted facilities by the end of the month.

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"We’ve been working really closely over the last several months with Operation Warp Speed and the CDC," Lynch said. "This isn’t mass distribution; we’re in every single long-term facility day in and day out."

"We're making really good progress," she said.

The Trump administration contracted CVS Health and rival pharmacy chain Walgreens to quickly administer the vaccines to long-term care facilities, with the first shots going into arms just before the holidays.

CEO Larry Merlo said that this week, CVS is likely to hold about 10,000 clinics in these facilities.

"We are absolutely on schedule with the plan that has been put together state by state," Merlo said.

CVS is also preparing for a broader expansion of vaccine administration in its retail pharmacies when access to the shots is opened to the general public. Lynch said the company is developing an in-house scheduling system in advance.

CVS uses a similar platform for COVID-19 testing, in which people seeking tests must register in advance for certain times before heading to the pharmacy drive-thru.

Lynch said that CVS expects it can administer between 20 million and 25 million vaccines per month at its pharmacies once the program is opened up more broadly.