Pharmacy Partnership Update – Interview with Jim Love, President CVS/ Omnicare

Regulation | December 16, 2020 | by Jill Schumann

Jim Love, President of CVS/Omnicare, joined LeadingAge’s Coronavirus Update Call on December 16, 2020 to share the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine Pharmacy Partnership. His colleagues Beth Coryea, Senior Director, Account Management and Ryan Jeannerette, Senior Director, Strategy, also answered questions from Ruth Katz and callers.

Jim Love, President of CVS/Omnicare, joined LeadingAge’s Coronavirus Update Call on December 16, 2020 to share the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine Pharmacy Partnership. His colleagues Beth Coryea, Senior Director, Account Management and Ryan Jeannerette, Senior Director, Strategy, also answered questions from Ruth Katz and callers. (Listen to the interview here.)

Q:          Please describe the Pharmacy Partnership.

A:          As the pandemic began, CVS decided they needed to aggressively engage in solutions in many ways. Omnicare will be rolling out the program with the full backing of all CVS resources. Omnicare will work directly with each facility to vaccinate staff and residents. 

Q:          What resources are available for participating aging services providers?

A:          Perhaps most important is the CVS website which will be a one-stop shop for resources. Each facility/ community will have a point of contact at Omnicare they can reach out to who should have already reached out to you. Other resources include the 10,000 pharmacists who work in CVS retail operations and will assist in immunization. CVS has a big logistics engine and will hire additional people as needed (pharmacists, pharmacy techs and RNs) to conduct the vaccinations.

Q:          Are there other basics you would like to share about the Pharmacy Partnership?

A:          Step back for a second and look what CVS and aging services providers are trying to do together – to immunize all staff and residents in 90 to 120 days. Nothing like this has been done before so there are likely to be some challenges and problems along the way. Communication will be important as well as recognizing that we all want the same thing – safe, efficient comprehensive vaccinations. CVS worries that some staff may not want to be vaccinated. CVS, CDC and others are producing education resources. Most residents remember earlier vaccine campaigns such as smallpox and polio immunization, and so may be more ready to accept the vaccine.

Q:          If providers have signed up for the Pharmacy Partnership and have not heard from CVS, what should they do?

A:          CVS is trying to leverage both technology and touch. They are sending emails and the resource contacts are reaching out. If you have not been contacted yet, send an email to CovidVaccineClinicsLTCF@CVSHealth.com

Q:          We understand that consent is not a CDC requirement, but consent is needed. What is the process and who is responsible?

A:          Providers are responsible as CVS needs to know the number of individuals to be vaccinated before they come onsite. CVS is trying to be flexible about meeting people where they are, so there is not just one option. CVS is sending hard copy forms in triplicate to each community. And, there are also options for verbal and digital consent – they will be sending out a communication about that very soon. The CVS website will also be a one stop shop for information so check it frequently. 

Q:          What can you tell us about the number of visits- is there flexibility? Is there a way to stagger staff vaccinations to minimize call-offs due to side effects?

A:          The plan is to do three clinics at each community. Many will choose to do a first vaccine for the majority of staff and residents at clinic one, then boosters for everyone at clinic two, and use clinic 3 for “clean up.” But some providers may choose to vaccinate 50% of staff at the first clinic, boosters for them and first vaccines for the other 50% at clinic 2, and boosters for staff vaccinated later at clinic 3. This will be discussed as the onsite clinics and doses needed are planned. There are some unique cases for very large facilities who may need multiple days for each visit. But they will likely stick with the three- clinic model

Q:          What about people who may only be at the facility for the first shot perhaps because they are short term rehab to home or for some other reason?

A:          CVS is working to come up with solutions rather than have barriers to full immunization and will work with individual sites to figure out how to get boosters to those folks. That might involve “drive up” approaches to the facility or some other option, including leveraging CVS retail locations when possible.

Q:          What if we don’t have a copy of the Medicare card and we only have the numbers?

A:          Aim for the best documentation you can get. CVS will continue to update guidance on this through the resource landing page. It may be possible to use the admission face sheet or EMR.

Q:          If a patient/ resident answers yes to any of contraindication screening questions such as “do you have any of the following medical conditions such as heart disease, liver disease, and so forth”, what then as this describes much of the frail LTC population?

A:          CVS acknowledges that their standard consent forms are too broad for this population and will be reviewing them. At this point, CVS advises to fill out the forms and discuss with resource contact and people can be evaluated by the pharmacy professionals who come onsite.

Q:          HUD Section 202 communities are a bit different as they don’t have healthcare staff (or much staff). What do you recommend?

A:          CVS recognizes this challenge and hopes that housing providers will do their best and CVS will try to assist as best they can, taking it on a case-by- case basis. Much will be learned quickly.

Q:          We have questions about payment for residents and for staff without insurance.

A:          The CVS FAQs have a link to the CMS guidelines stating that there should be no out-of-pocket costs for anyone who will be vaccinated. There are specific funding apparatuses for people who are uninsured or underinsured.

Q:          What can providers do to educate staff and residents about the vaccine?

A:          CDC released a toolkit over the weekend regarding vaccine education and CVS has tools on their website including FAQs. They will continue to add to the website. Communication is key using many different formats, including one-on-one conversations, mobilizing informal staff leaders, etc.

Q:          Can CCRC independent living residents be vaccinated when CVS is onsite for the clinics?

A:          From the CVS perspective it would make sense to vaccinate everyone when they are onsite, but CDC is saying that independent living is not in scope of the first wave Pharmacy Partnership. However, staff that work between levels of the continuum of care should be vaccinated.

Q:          Will there be consent forms in other languages?

A:          A Spanish version is in process and CVS is open to adding additional languages. Please send emails to CVS inbox describing your needs.

Q:          There are concerns circulating about potential problems with the vaccine and women’s fertility. What is your understanding?

A:          CVS recommends looking at the information available from Pfizer – there is a link on the CVS landing page. The data from the trials on this is limited. Concerned women could defer vaccination and/or consult with their personal physician. More information will become available as vaccinations proceed.

Q:          Who is ultimately responsible for getting consent?

A:          The CVS goal is to have consents completed by the provider before CVS arrives onsite. They need to know the number of doses to bring especially with the challenges of storage, etc. They need to be armed with appropriate number of vaccines.

Q:         How many residents and staff can be vaccinated in a day?

A:          The CVS Resource Contact will work with the provider to estimate and validate the number of vaccines needed. CVS will confirm clinic dates and then staff up to be able to do everyone in one day, if possible. CVS is working on minimal disruption to patient care, but the goal is to do it all in a day.

Q:          Will CVS staff be equipped to deal with severe allergic responses or will they rely on calling 911?

A:          The CVS professionals will have crash cart -type tools, Epi pens, etc. but are not ruling out that 9  11 may need to be called.

Q:          If someone emails the CVS inbox, what is the expected turnaround time for an answer?

A:          CVS admits that they have been inundated with emails for the past several days so will appreciate people’s patience. CVS is staffing up to decrease turnaround time so people should receive responses in 24-48 hours very soon.

Q:          If a facility did not sign up originally is it too late?

A:          CVS has no authority to opt in new facilities so you would need to go directly to CDC.