Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine in Long-Term Care Facilities

Long-term care facilities (LTCFs) provide a range of services, including medical and personal care, to adults who are unable to live independently. These types of facilities include, but are not limited to, skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other congregate living settings where most people receiving care/supervision are older than 65 years of age. The communal nature of LTCFs and the population served (generally older adults, often with underlying medical conditions) put facility residents at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe illness from COVID-19.

The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care (LTC) Program facilitated on-site vaccination of residents and staff at more than 62,000 enrolled LTCFs, with pharmacy partners conducting three on-site vaccination clinics for every enrolled facility. The vaccination clinics successfully concluded in all facilities enrolled in the program by May 2021. However, ensuring steady access to vaccine is necessary since the program has ended, because new residents are being admitted to these facilities daily, and new staff and residents who may have initially been hesitant may now wish to be vaccinated.

In mid-March, the federal government began providing a direct allocation to long-term care pharmacies across the country participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program through three group purchasing organizations and one LTC pharmacy — Managed Health Care Associates, Inc. (MHA), GeriMed, Innovatix, and Omnicare. Each week, these three group purchasing organizations and Omnicare order and distribute vaccine to their member long-term care pharmacies.

Ways for Long-term Care Facilities to Continue Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine

LTCF administrators and clinical leadership should consider the following options when making COVID-19 vaccination plans for their facilities.

Next Steps for Long-Term Care Facilities

  1. Initiate a discussion with your existing LTC pharmacy to better understand your options. If the pharmacy is set up to receive COVID-19 vaccine through the federal government or through your state, the pharmacy can administer vaccine to your residents and staff.
  2. Find an alternate pharmacy if your existing LTC pharmacy is not a federal or state COVID-19 vaccination partner. View the list of long-term care (LTC) pharmacies enrolled with the federal government to provide COVID-19 vaccine. You can also contact your state health department to find additional providers in your area.
  3. Lastly, some states may enroll LTCFs as COVID-19 vaccination providers and allow them to order COVID-19 vaccine directly for administration to their residents and staff. The COVID-19 vaccination provider enrollment process differs by state and may not be an option for every facility. Facilities should work directly with their state immunization program if this option is desired.
Page last reviewed: April 6, 2021