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Texas part of program to vaccinate nursing home residents, staff for free

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is making it easier for long-term care staff and patients to get free COVID-19 vaccinations once they become available later this month. Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office

Gov. Greg Abbott is clearing a path so long-term care facility staff and residents can get the COVID-19 vaccination for free.

Abbott announced Friday, Dec. 11, that Texas will participate in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program. Under this initiative, participating Walgreens and CVS pharmacies will send staff along with doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to long-term care facilities to vaccinate staff and residents who volunteer to participate.

Long-term care facility staff who work directly with residents as well as residents themselves are among the groups designated to be first to receive the COVID-19 vaccination when it becomes available.

On Thursday, Dec. 10, the Food and Drug Administration’s panel of outside experts endorsed the Pfizer vaccine, and the administration will probably approve an emergency authorization use for it in the coming days. Texas is anticipating receiving 1.4 million doses of the vaccine spread out over several allotments.

The governor’s office noted that more than 1,200 skilled nursing facilities and more than 2,000 other long-term care facilities have signed up for the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program. That represents approximately 225,000 certified beds.

The first vaccines included in this program will be provided to pharmacies the week of Dec. 21, with the program ramping up Dec. 28.

“The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program will help the State of Texas facilitate safe vaccinations among some of our most vulnerable populations, and it will help us protect residents and staff of long-term care facilities from COVID-19,” Abbott said in a media release. “I thank the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for offering this program free of charge to these facilities and for working alongside us to keep our communities safe.”

Facilities currently not enrolled in the program can do so through the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Immunization Program website.