The state of California has joined a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens to provide coronavirus vaccinations to long-term care facility residents and staff, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.
CVS and Walgreens will provide vaccine doses from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer to residents and staff members in facilities like nursing homes and assisted living centers.
According to Newsom, CVS will provide vaccines to around 500 nursing homes while Walgreens will do so at roughly 350 nursing homes over the next three-to-four weeks.
“By leveraging CVS and Walgreens resources, we can effectively deploy vaccines to residents and staff at our long-term care facilities, which are at higher risk of COVID transmission — and do it at no cost to the state or local government,” Newsom said in a statement.
Residents and staff members in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are among the first in the state to receive the vaccine along with front-line health care workers, in-home health care workers, primary care clinic workers, laboratory workers, dental health clinic employees and pharmacy staff.
According to Newsom, the state’s task force overseeing the vaccine distribution schedule is expected to approve as soon as Wednesday the next groups that will have access to the vaccine.
People over age 75 or age 65 if they have underlying health conditions, workers in education and childcare, emergency services, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, manufacturing and the industrial, residential and commercial sectors are all expected to begin receiving the vaccine in January on the current schedule.
In addition, unhoused residents and people in the state’s prison system will be among the next pool of people with access to the vaccine.
The state also expects to receive fewer vaccines than it had originally planned for by the end of the year, Newsom said, with only around 1.8 million doses from Pfizer and the biotechnology company Moderna expected to arrive in California by the end of the week.
The state had originally planned for as many as 2.2 million doses from the two companies.
“It’s not a point of criticism,” Newsom said. “I still think it’s an extraordinary success story.”
Even with the vaccine rollout, Newsom and state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said they expect both January and February to be “challenging” given how widespread the virus currently is within the state.
The statewide test positivity rate is now up to 12.5 percent, according to Newsom, despite California reporting results from more than 300,000 tests per day on average over the last seven days.
In addition, hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions continue to climb, which is likely to necessitate an extension of the state’s regional stay-at-home order later into January for most of California, including the Bay Area.
The surge is likely to be exacerbated by holiday-related travel, Ghaly said.
“We really hope that as we enter one of these last worrying periods for the foreseeable future with New Year’s that people do make the decision to stay local, stay at home, don’t mix outside of their households,” Ghaly said.
“Everything that we’re seeing today is that things that were a month ago or two months ago a low-risk activity, today, are really high risks because of the level of COVID that’s circulating in our communities,” he added.