KEY POINTS

  • The Trump administration on Friday announced a deal with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care facilities
  • The vaccine will be free for all residents and staff members in long-term care facilities
  • Johnson & Johnson’s late-stage coronavirus vaccine was paused after a participant reported an adverse effect

The Trump administration on Friday announced a deal with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19  vaccines to long-term care facilities when a safe vaccine is produced.

The vaccine will be free for all residents and staff members in long-term care facilities, including skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and residential care homes, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a press release.

CVS and Walgreens will coordinate on-site inoculation dates with each facility. The companies anticipate that three total visits over two months are likely to be needed to administer both doses of vaccine to residents and staff, the agency said.

“Protecting the vulnerable has been the number one priority of the Trump Administration’s response to COVID-19, and that commitment will continue through distributing a safe and effective vaccine earliest to those who need it most,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said the deal will ensure that nursing home residents, which have been hit hard by the virus, “are at the front of the line for the COVID vaccine and will bring their grueling trial to a close as swiftly as possible.”

The announcement comes the same day states must submit their draft plans to the federal government on how they will distribute a coronavirus vaccine if and when one is approved for public use.

Most of the potential vaccines require two doses, although Johnson & Johnson’s requires just one shot, and some of them need to be transported and stored at varying and specific temperatures.

Most notably, Johnson & Johnson’s late-stage coronavirus vaccine was paused after a participant reported an adverse effect, the company’s chief financial officer said Tuesday.

The pause will allow the data and safety monitoring board to thoroughly investigate the unexplained illness, CFO Joseph Wolk said in an interview on CNBC.

“We’re letting safety protocol follow the proper procedure here,” he said, adding that pauses in trials are “not uncommon.”

“What it should also do is reassure the public that every scientific, medical and ethical standard is being applied here,” Wolk added.