October 30: Deadline for Vaccine Program Sign-Up

October 26, 2020More than 9,000 long-term care providers had signed up for the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program as of this past Friday, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The deadline is midnight ET on this coming Friday.

The program, announced Oct. 16 by HHS and the Department of Defense, involves agreements with CVS Health and Walgreens and will enable long-term care residents and staff members to be vaccinated against COVID-19 free of charge to them when a vaccine becomes available.

Oct. 21, Jay Butler, M.D., deputy director for infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the program would include independent living community residents and staff members in addition to residents and staff at other types of long-term care facilities such as assisted living communities and nursing homes (residents and staff at residential care homes, adult family homes and skilled nursing facilities also are eligible, according to the original announcement).

Friday, HHS confirmed that independent living communities, including those that are part of continuing care retirement communities (which also are known as life plan communities) would be part of the program.

“We are extremely pleased that HHS has affirmed that independent living residents are included for prioritization in their vaccination program. This recognizes that independent living residents, including those in stand-alone independent living communities, should also be included in vaccination clinics in partnership with CVS and Walgreens and other long-term care pharmacies,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda said. “We are encouraging all senior living providers (assisted living, independent living, memory care, and continuing care) to register for the HHS pharmacy partnership program and to ensure they adequately account for all residents, staff, volunteers, and vendors in providing census counts.”

American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living President and CEO Mark Parkinson also previously had urged all eligible long-term care providers “to register for this program immediately and before the deadline.”

The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program is voluntary; operators may choose to use their current pharmacy contracts for their COVID-19 vaccination efforts. “It is also important to note that if communities opt in to the HHS program, the decision on how to receive vaccines can be changed at any time before vaccines are distributed,” Argentum said in an announcement posted on its website.

HHS said that senior living operators who wish to participate should complete this form.

Skilled nursing and other types of long-term care facilities certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that report data through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network should log in to NHSN and look for the link to the program under “alerts,” according to HHS.

The federal government also has posted answers to frequently asked questions about the program.