Continuing Vaccine Access for Long-Term Care Communities

Regulation | February 08, 2021 | by Linda Couch

With the imminent ending of the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, the CDC has rolled out the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. In a meeting with long-term care field leaders today, the CDC shared, “Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine in Long-Term Care Facilities,” which outlines three ways long-term care communities might access the vaccine after the Pharmacy Partnership’s ending.

With the imminent ending of the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, the CDC has rolled out the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. In a meeting with long-term care field leaders today, the CDC shared, “Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine in Long-Term Care Facilities,” which outlines three ways long-term care communities might access the vaccine after the Pharmacy Partnership’s ending.

First, long-term care communities could receive the vaccine from a long-term care pharmacy that is enrolled as a vaccine provider through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program (FRPP). Through the FRPP, communities can coordinate directly with long-term care pharmacies to get access to vaccines and plan vaccination clinics.

According to the CDC, three group purchasing organizations that represent long-term care pharmacies across the country (MHA, GeriMed, and Innovatix) are participating in the FRPP. Other pharmacy chains and networks that work in long-term care in some capacity are participating as well. “All of these partners will receive vaccine through the program to distribute to their member LTC pharmacies. Long-term care communities can check with their local LTC pharmacy to see if they are receiving vaccine through this program,” the CDC says.

Second, long-term care communities can receive the vaccine from a long-term care pharmacy that is enrolled as a vaccine provider with their state or territory. Pharmacies not enrolled with CDC as COVID-19 vaccination providers can enroll directly with a state or territory’s immunization program to offer vaccination in their communities.

Long-term care pharmacies that are not yet enrolled to provide COVID-19 vaccine with their state or territory can visit their state immunization program website to explore options for becoming a vaccine provider. According to the CDC, pharmacy partner enrollment for the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program has closed.

Third, long-term care communities can receive COVID-19 vaccine by enrolling directly with their state or territory as a COVID-19 vaccine provider. Communities can visit their state immunization program website to explore options for becoming a COVID-19 vaccine provider.

Subcontracting is Possible

According to the CDC, some long-term care pharmacies enrolled as COVID-19 vaccine providers, either through the federal program or their state or territory, may not have enough staff to administer vaccines onsite at the facility. Long-term care community staff should not administer the vaccine on behalf of the pharmacy unless the long-term care community is also enrolled as a vaccine provider with their state or territory. However, long-term care pharmacies participating in the FRPP are permitted by their COVID-19 vaccination provider agreements to subcontract staff and, through this process, could use facility staff for vaccine administration.