(Reuters) – CVS Health Corp has completed the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations at about 8,000 U.S. skilled nursing facilities that were part of a federal program, the drugstore chain said on Monday.
Administration of second doses is expected to be completed within four weeks, the company said.
CVS said it will complete first vaccinations in the 40,000 long-term care facilities that have contracted with the company by mid-February, and said it has completed the first vaccinations of residents in skilled-nursing facilities. Most states have moved on to begin vaccinations of members of the general public.
CVS said it has given nearly 2 million shots through the program but did not disclose how many more nursing home residents are still waiting for their first dose.
The Trump administration tapped CVS and Walgreens Boots Alliance last year to run nursing home vaccinations and the first vaccinations began in late December. Nursing homes residents were in the first priority group for a vaccine in the United States because they are most likely to die of COVID-19.
However, state officials have raised alarms that inoculations at nursing homes were moving more slowly than expected, a Reuters analysis found earlier this month, even as federal officials pushed states to make vaccines available for other groups, like people over 65. [L1N2JQ22Q]
The company said that many states opted to not activate the program until mid-to-late January.
CVS said it can eventually administer 20 to 25 million shots a month through its retail locations once vaccines are more widely available, but did not provide timing of when this would likely occur.
In the final days of the Trump Administration, Operation Warp Speed said it would activate the federal program to send shots to pharmacies early.
CVS said some of its locations in New York, Indiana, and Massachusetts were already giving shots.
There have been growing concerns about a slower-than-expected rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the country. As of Sunday, just over 18.5 million had received one or more doses of the vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the government had earlier expected 20 million to have been vaccinated by the end of 2020.
The new administration has said it will give 100 million vaccinations in U.S. President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office.
(Reporting by Trisha Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Nick Zieminski)