Nearly 40 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths in Mississippi are among long-term care residents, and outbreaks in these facilities are rising. A statewide vaccination effort is underway to protect vulnerable Mississippians.
Coronavirus outbreaks are surging in Mississippi's long term care facilities, which include nursing homes and assisted living. Health officials say they're dedicating nearly 40,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to vaccinate the state's long term care residents and employees. Helping administer these vaccines are Walgreens and CVS pharmacies. In a live stream, Rina Shah with Walgreens says the pharmacy has reinforced distribution methods. "The first thing we've done is manage our supply chain, our storage and handling facility, so we have about 800-1000 locations across the country where we've set up so that they can be prepared to accept that Pfizer vaccine, and we have freezers across all of our fleets so that we can support the Moderna vaccine," says Shah.
To slow transmission of the virus, restrictions have been in place for the majority of the pandemic limiting visitations at long-term care facilities. Marshal Carter with CVS Pharmacy says getting residents vaccinated will allow them to eventually visit with their families and friends again. "It's very hard on them to not be able to have some sense of normalcy in their daily routine and making sure that we can respond to the crisis appropriately and get everyone vaccinated is our key," says Carter. "It's helping patients on their path to better health, and in order to do that, part of that is responding to this crisis and making sure that everyone who wants the vaccine gets the vaccine."
Carter says these vaccines will be fully covered by insurance and government healthcare plans, and there will be no additional costs to patients or families. A CVS spokesperson says the pharmacy will officially begin vaccinating long term care residents in Mississippi next week.