Health Team

Walgreens, CVS begin vaccinations at nursing homes

Posted December 28, 2020 7:03 a.m. EST
Updated December 28, 2020 3:26 p.m. EST

— Coronavirus vaccinations began Monday at long-term care facilities across North Carolina.

Health officials say North Carolina care facilities have seen 23,000 coronavirus infections during the pandemic, and about 2,400 residents and staffers have died from the virus.

Last week, Moderna shipped more than 175,000 doses of its vaccine to North Carolina. About 96,000 of them will go to 899 long-term care facilities, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. CVS and Walgreen's have contracted with the federal government to handle vaccinating residents and staff of long-term care facilities nationwide.

Over the next 12 weeks, both Walgreens and CVS say they expect to vaccinate 7 million people at 75,000 long-term care facilities across the country.

"We're trying to get as many people trained up as quick as possible," said CVS pharmacist Jocelyn Shrum, who is organizing teams of people to go into facilities for vaccination clinics. "The response has been great. So many people do want to help end this pandemic, and this is the solution that we've been given."

CVS and Walgreens combined have about 19,000 pharmacies nationwide, "so we have a enough manpower to get it out there as quick as possible," Shrum said.

Sandra Rawlings, who lives in the Courtyards at Berne Village in New Bern, said she is already scheduled to get her first dose of the vaccine on Jan. 18.

"Having a life it what it would amount to," said Rawlings, who is 80. "Being able to ... visit with friends, visit with family. Even though precautions will still have to be taken, at least minimizing the opportunity to contract the virus will allow a little more of that."

Rawlings said she would encourage other seniors to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity.

"A sore arm is a very excellent trade-off to not getting COVID and having yourself in a very, very bad, perhaps fatal, situation," she said.

Shrum said CVS has done annual flu shot clinics in many long-term care facilities, so distributing the coronavirus vaccine won't be much different.

"I feel incredibly honored and privileged that I get to be part of this," she said. "This is definitely the most rewarding thing I've ever had to do before in my life."

It will likely be months before vaccines are available to the general public. But when they are, Shrum said vaccines will be available by appointment.

"You can sign up for your appointment, and you're going to sign up for your second appointment at the same time so you make sure to come and get that second dose," she said, noting both of the vaccines that have been approved so far require two shots. "We're going to make sure that everything is allocated to you, so you're not going to miss that second vaccine. We're going to have it in stock for you."

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