Inside the Slow Rollout of Vaccines in Washington State

Long-term care facilities are still waiting on coronavirus vaccines

Long-term care facilities have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, accounting for more than half the state’s deaths. A record number of the facilities currently have at least one active case of COVID-19. As part of a Trump administration program, CVS and Walgreens have a contract to vaccinate the bulk of the state’s 4,164 long-term care facilities, with smaller numbers being handled by smaller pharmacies.

As the delays mounted with CVS and Walgreens, some long-term care facilities dropped out of the federal program and found local pharmacies that could begin vaccinating sooner.

At Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood, CEO Terry Robertson was counting on CVS’ scheduled vaccine clinics. A deadly outbreak at the facility had infected more than 100 residents, including 19 who died. But when he learned CVS had scheduled the first shot for Jan. 9, he opted to switch to Consonus Pharmacy, a smaller chain. Instead, Josephine residents received the first vaccine Dec. 27.

“I thought two weeks could prevent someone from getting the virus and might even save a life,” Robertson said.

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