Criticism aimed at federal pharmacy partnership, pharmacies say they’re on schedule

Criticism aimed at federal pharmacy partnership, pharmacies say they're on schedule

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Some Mid-South officials have blasted the Federal Pharmacy Program for moving too slow in getting vaccines to long term care facilities.

One of those pharmacies said it’s on track to meet its obligations to the program.

However, many loved ones are left frustrated and concerned as time goes on without their family members in long term care facilities receiving a vaccine.

“My understanding was in section 1a1 long term facilities were going to be some of the first people to get it,” Shelby County resident Kelly Perry said.

Kelly Perry has three family members in three different long term care facilities in Shelby County. All are part of the federal pharmacy program which is dispatching CVS and Walgreens workers to the facilities to administer the vaccine.

Only one of the facilities have scheduled a vaccination date, and she can’t get any clear answers from the others.

“We’re losing valuable time with our loved ones,” Perry said.

“We’re clearly upset with the progress in the long term care project,” Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said.

In Mississippi, Dr. Dobbs said vaccines were allocated to the program on the first day they arrived to the state, but some facilities won’t be getting vaccines until February.

In a statement CVS said “Shots in arms are increasing daily at an impressive rate. As of this week, we’ve administered 1 million shots and are on track based on the federal partnership agreement.”

According to CVS data, in Tennessee it administered first doses at 89 of the 415 sites it has partnerships with, 77 of 211 facilities in Mississippi and 28 out of 45 in Arkansas.

MORE: 330K COVID-19 vaccines given to Tennesseans so far

“The Federal Pharmacy Program is going too slow in virtually every state,” Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said.

Gov. Reeves said some of it comes down to personnel issues. There is also the time it takes to plan logistics of these kinds of visits which Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter sees first hand.

“We have sent strike teams to nursing homes who do not have agreements with the pharmacies,” Dr. Haushalter said. “That is a very extensive task.”

The CDC reports a quarter of the more than 4 million vaccines allocated to the program have been used.

We reached out to Walgreens for its data, but we have not heard back a part from an automatic reply via email.

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