Does Walgreens’ nursing home experience portend a slow retail recovery?
Nursing home residents and staff have been among the hardest hit populations since the pandemic broke out in 2020. This fact led the government to put the people living and working in these facilities at the top of the list for those who should get first access to vaccines receiving emergency use approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Walgreens, along with CVS, was enlisted as a partner by the federal government to administer vaccines in nursing homes and extended care facilities across the country.
What Walgreens learned was that 60 percent of those working in nursing homes and 20 percent of residents would refuse the vaccine. The drugstore’s findings mirror statistics through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which based on available data, estimates that the median number of residents vaccinated was 77.8 percent and 37.5 percent.
“We were seeing vaccine hesitancy — particularly among those that work in these facilities — that was higher than we expected,” Rick Gates, senior vice president of pharmacy and health care at Walgreens, said at CNBC’s Healthy Returns virtual event yesterday. Doses not distributed at nursing homes were used for other high priority individuals on the government’s list.
Retailers may find the nursing home vaccination news worrying, understanding that getting 70 percent to 85 percent of the population vaccinated against the virus is necessary to achieve herd immunity that could return society to something resembling pre-pandemic norms.
Vaccine reluctance remains high across much of the country, with people citing various reasons for their anti-immunization stance, ranging from historical factors to political stands.
A study released this week by the CDC found that 49 percent of American adults say they are absolutely certain or very likely to get one of the vaccines approved for use in the U.S. That number, while still low, is an improvement over another study in September that found only 39.4 percent were likely to be vaccinated against the virus. Those reluctant to get vaccinated fall into a number of broad groups, including younger adults, women, non-Hispanic Black adults, adults in non-metropolitan areas, those with lower education and income levels and the uninsured.
- About 60% of nursing home staff declined Covid vaccines, Walgreens exec says – CNBC
- Early COVID-19 First-Dose Vaccination Coverage Among Residents and Staff Members of Skilled Nursing Facilities Participating in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program — United States, December 2020–January 2021 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- COVID-19 Vaccination Intent, Perceptions, and Reasons for Not Vaccinating Among Groups Prioritized for Early Vaccination — United States, September and December 2020 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think vaccine reluctance will dissipate as more and more Americans are immunized against COVID-19? Should retailers have a plan B in the event that herd immunity is not reached short-term and, if yes, what do you think it should look like?