Walgreens gives COVID-19 vaccines meant for longterm-care facilities to the general public

Healthcare workers and longterm-care facilities are the only ones who are supposed to have access to the COVID-19 vaccine in Kentucky.
Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 7:09 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Healthcare workers and longterm-care facilities are the only ones who are supposed to have access to the COVID-19 vaccine in Kentucky.

A mix-up last week gave an unknown number of vaccines to the general public.

With the current policies in place. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the vaccine should not have been given to the general public. However, that’s what happened last week in Lexington and Louisville. In his latest coronavirus briefing, Beshear said it should never happen again.

Reports surfaced that Walgreens locations in Lexington and Louisville were giving out COVID-19 vaccines to the general public. The pharmacy giant confirmed it received extra doses of the vaccines after local longterm facilities requested too much.

“It shouldn’t happen,” Beshear said. “If more of the Pfizer vaccine was called then that could immediately be used, (then) the next longterm-care facility the one that, that vaccine is supposed to be saved for needs to be contacted,” Beshear said.

Beshear said vaccinations to the general public should not have happened if protocols were followed. However, he said he believes the well-intentioned pharmacies didn’t want doses to go to waste.

“There’s going to be mistakes,” Beshear said. “There just is, and it’s the number of providers as it increases and increases people panic. Some of these situations are going to happen.”

Beshear said it’s unknown how many vaccines were given out. WAVE 3 News reached out to Walgreens and received the following statement:

“COVID-19 vaccines are not available to the general public at this time. We continue to work with long-term care facilities to meet their vaccination needs as part of the CDC’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program. When scheduling clinics, facilities are responsible for determining the number of individuals and vaccine doses necessary. In the initial days of providing vaccinations to long-term care facilities in Kentucky, we experienced an isolated situation in which the amount of vaccine doses requested by facilities exceeded the actual need.

Per CDC guidance, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine can be at refrigerated temperatures for only five days. We are committed to eliminating scenarios where vaccine expires due to shelf life while at the same time focusing our efforts on immunizing eligible patient populations in each roll-out phase. Remaining doses from the scheduled clinics in Kentucky were immediately reallocated and used in facilities with clinics on Christmas Eve that were originally scheduled to occur at a later date. Additional excess doses were then offered to local first responders, Walgreens pharmacy and store team members and residents of the community, many of whom were over age 65. These measures were taken to ensure every dose of a limited vaccine supply was used to protect patients and communities.

We will utilize excess vaccine inventory in priority patient populations and continue to work closely with state and federal health agencies in our efforts to vaccinate residents in long-term care facilities and ensure requested doses meet their needs.”

Beshear added it’s important for everyone to know there will not be a vaccine pop-up opportunity at CVS or Walgreens locations for the general public. If vaccines can’t be given to longterm-care facilities, there will be more guidance to get vaccines to those who are most at-risk.

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