WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — This week, federal officials hope to distribute the first round of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the first doses go to healthcare workers and nursing home residents.
CEO Mark Parkinson with the American Health Care Association says nursing home residents could receive their first dose of the vaccine by the end of the month.
“We are hoping that vaccines will actually start to show up in nursing homes and folks will start getting vaccines as early as Dec. 15,” Parkinson said.
Parkinson says once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves its use, the government plans to send the first shipment of Pfizer’s vaccines to states within 24 hours.
“I know there are enough doses right now to both start immunizing healthcare workers and long-term care facilities,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator.
The White House says 6.4 million vaccines are ready to distribute. They plan to ship another 5-10 million doses every week.
“There are 1.3 million residents in long-term care facilities, there are 1.6 million workers, and that is just on the nursing home side—when you add assisted living, there is another million and a half,” Parkinson said.
Parkinson says the federal government has partnered with CVS and Walgreens to deliver and administer the vaccines to all 15,000 nursing homes in the country.
“CVS and Walgreens will come out, they will maintain the cold storage of the vaccine, they will actually vaccinate the residents and the staff,” Parkinson said.
The first two vaccines the FDA is considering both require two doses within 21 days.
“So it is a logistical challenge, but I really think the CDC and the federal government have their act together on this, and I think we are going to be able to get it done,” Parkinson said.
The FDA is scheduled to meet Thursday to consider Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use and again next week to consider Moderna’s vaccine.