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COVID-19 vaccine in Texas: State to participate in vaccine program for long-term care facilities; pharmacies prepare for distribution

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that Texas will participate in a federal program to vaccinate residents and staff of long-term care facilities against COVID-19.

DALLAS — As pharmacies across the state and country prepare to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to millions of Americans, Texas has announced new plans to ensure some of its most vulnerable residents receive the shot.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that Texas will participate in a federal program to vaccinate residents and staff of long-term care facilities against COVID-19.

The program is by the CDC and is called the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program.

Abbott said in a release that the program will help "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."

At no cost to participating facilities, the program will send pharmacy employees and Pfizer vaccines from partnering Walgreens and CVS locations to administer the vaccine to residents and staff.

Some of the program’s first vaccines will go to pharmacies the week of Dec. 21. The program will begin Dec. 28, according to Abbott. 

In a press release, Abbott said over 1,200 skilled nursing facilities and over 2,000 other long-term care facilities have signed up for this program, totaling more than 225,000 certified beds.

CVS is currently hiring pharmacists, nurses, and other positions to help administer COVID-19 vaccines as part of their COVID-19 Vaccine Support Team. To apply for their full time and temporary positions, click here

“The CDC has told states the earliest they can start vaccinating in long-term care facilities is Dec. 21, 2020. For states that want to start then, we’ll be in facilities that day," CVS wrote in a statement to WFAA. 

CVS pharmacy said they will have the capacity to administer 20 to 25 million shots a month once vaccines are available for wider distribution. Vaccines will be available at their locations, the company said.

Transporting and storing the vaccine

Storing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be tricky, because it has to be kept at 94 degrees below zero. 

A spokesperson for Dougherty’s Pharmacy in Preston Royal Village told WFAA they expect three freezers to arrive on Dec. 27, and they’ll be ready vaccinate the general public when the appropriate time comes.

In a statement, CVS told WFAA “special shippers that utilize dry ice will be used to transport vaccines.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for H-E-B said all of their pharmacy locations, nearly 300 in total, have been approved as vaccine sites. 

“H-E-B has the necessary frozen logistics needed to receive, distribute, and properly store the Pfizer vaccine," the company said in a statement.