President Donald Trump announced Friday that his administration has reached a partnership with pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens to guarantee that when a COVID-19 vaccination is available, it will be given to nursing home residents at no cost to them.
Although no vaccine is yet available, the Trump administration is developing a plan for ensuring that prioritized groups, such as senior citizens living in long-term care facilities, are among the first vaccinated, according to a Department of Health and Human Services news release.
The vaccine will be available with no out-of-pocket costs to residents in all long-term care settings, including skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, residential care homes and adult family homes, the agency said.
The department said this will particularly serve residents in rural areas who may not have an easy access to a pharmacy, because CVS and Walgreens will schedule on-site clinic dates to administer the vaccine, once it is developed. The release said the Trump administration hopes to have a vaccine available by the end of the year.
During a speech Friday in Fort Myers, Florida, Trump said that in the battle against COVID-19, “We will overcome.”
“As president, I’m deeply aware that America’s 54 million seniors have borne the heaviest burden of the China virus. Many older Americans have endured months of isolation, missing weddings, births, graduations, church, and family reunions. You know that very well. You know it all too well,” he said.
Trump told his audience not to lose hope.
“My message to American seniors today is one of optimism, confidence and hope. Your sacrifice has not been in vain,” he said. “The light at the end of the tunnel is near. We are rounding the turn. I say that all the time. Some of the media doesn’t like hearing it. But I say it all the time: We’re rounding that turn.
“Don’t listen to the cynics and angry partisans and professional pessimists. We are Americans and we will prevail. We are prevailing and we are. It’s amazing what’s happening, if you look at what’s going on. It’s been really very amazing,” Trump added.
“I’m moving heaven and earth to safeguard our seniors from the China virus, to deliver lifesaving therapies in record time and to distribute a safe and effective vaccine before the end of the year. And we’re really doing it, even sooner than that. You see what’s going on. We have the vaccines getting ready to go,” he said, noting that seniors “will be the first in line for the vaccine.”
Trump said seniors who have borne the enforced restrictions of lockdowns will be able to reconnect soon with loved ones.
“Once you have that vaccine, you can open those doors and say, ‘Here I am,’” he said.
Trump talked of his successful treatment for the coronavirus and said he wants all Americans who need it to have free access to the drug he was given.
“I’m also working with the [Food and Drug Administration] and HHS to make the antibody treatment that I received. It’s called Regeneron, plus — also, it’s incredible,” he said.
“And, you know, what they what they can do today is incredible. And they felt very confident, even six months ago, when they started. Think of it: We got this all done in a very short period of time. And now we’re going for emergency use because we’re going to make it available to everyone who needs it for free — anybody in the country.”
According to the HHS release, the partnership with CVS and Walgreens, dubbed the “Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program,” will resolve issues that could prevent seniors from getting the care they need.
“Today’s historic pharmacy partnership will truly help jurisdictions solve a logistical hurdle and decrease the burden of distributing, administering, and reporting COVID-19 vaccination for both states and long-term care facilities,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement. “CDC is proud to be a part of this public-private partnership that is advancing care for the nation’s most vulnerable.”
“Ensuring access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly among our most vulnerable populations, will be critical to saving lives and helping our nation recover from the pandemic,” added John Standley, Walgreens’ president.
“CVS Health has been on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, working across the health care spectrum in all the communities we serve and that will continue to be the case when we have a vaccine to dispense,” said Troy Brennan, the chief medical officer of CVS Health.
Nursing homes can start signing up for the program on Monday.