Does Walgreens’ nursing home experience portend a slow retail recovery?

Discussion
Source: Walgreens news video
Feb 10, 2021
George Anderson

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.

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?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I wouldn’t read too much into the early anecdotal reporting about nursing homes."
"50 percent of first responders (firemen) and health care workers in Miami-Dade county refused the vaccine. That’s one reason my friends and I were able to get it."
"I hope vaccine reluctance dissipates as vaccines offer a route out of the pandemic and are proven to be effective. Retailers should be planning for the worst..."

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17 Comments on "Does Walgreens’ nursing home experience portend a slow retail recovery?"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

I hope vaccine reluctance dissipates as vaccines offer a route out of the pandemic and are proven to be effective. Retailers should be planning for the worst – that the pandemic continues for the rest of this year – as well as hoping for the best. Other than contingency planning and doing their best to urge (not force) employees to become vaccinated, there is not much else retailers can do to to increase vaccine take-up. Of course retailers like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, etc. can play a role in ensuring all communities have access to vaccines and that information and facts and advice are available to customers.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

I wonder, too, how much the reluctance will dissipate as more and more doses are available. My family has had our first shot (Moderna) because I have a disabled child and we need people outside our bubble able to come help. My experience is that there is such high demand for the vaccine, that arranging appointments is a serious challenge. (A friend suggested it’s equivalent to getting tickets to that latest hot concert.)

That will absolutely have an effect on demand — even in nursing homes. When it’s not quite such a “special” event, I expect reluctance to go away.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

My friends fall into two camps. The ones who will do whatever they can to get the vaccine (I was one of those, and I’m done now) and those who won’t touch it because they feel it’s not tested enough.

Further, they say “well, what will be different? I still have to wear a mask and socially distance. Why bother?”

I know why for my own self, but they have a point. And I would ask, after a year, how do we not know yet if a vaccinated person can be an asymptomatic carrier?

If that question doesn’t get answered, and if the state can’t provide some better and definitive proof, we’ll never get there.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

I see just the reverse problem, at least here in Wisconsin, where demand among the general population is far exceeding supply — even among groups that are “authorized” by the state for their first dose. Walgreens is finally starting its in-store vaccinations this Friday, but the news stories around the country about shortages at mass events point to the same issue.

Survey data also suggests that popular opinion pro-vaccine is gaining strength, and I expect this to continue. I wouldn’t read too much into the early anecdotal reporting about nursing homes.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust
Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

50 percent of first responders (firemen) and health care workers in Miami-Dade county refused the vaccine. That’s one reason my friends and I were able to get it. That’s not anecdotal. That’s actual data!

Joe Skorupa
BrainTrust

Same problem here in California and specifically my county. To date, my county is running out of vaccinations at such a rate that they have not yet opened it to those older than 65. Those who have reserved vaccination dates are getting them in March at the earliest. No reluctance here.

Christine Russo
BrainTrust

Yes, I do think reluctance will dissipate and yes, I think retailers should have a Plan B, C, D — you get the idea. Retail’s volatility will continue for the near term and so constant evolution is required. The good news is that the tech world has taken a fancy to retail and there are ENDLESS solutions to reach and service clients.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust
No, I don’t. Vaccine reluctance has three primary sources: the politicization of public health, junk science, and junk media. The only way the pandemic could have been handled worse is if the government had done nothing. I was at my doctor’s office yesterday for a checkup and was shocked to hear that only one of the nurses had gotten vaccinated, despite them all being eligible. The reasons for not getting the shots sounded like a reprise of QAnon’s Greatest Hits. And, remember, these are people I have known for years – educated medical professionals, potentially on the frontlines of the battle. The fact is people are confused. Take masks. We’ve gone from no masks, to recommended masks including bandanas, to multiple masks, to mandated masks. The public health communication program was not only ineffective but criminally stupid. At this point it’s hard to imagine how you neutralize that polarization enough to reach the vaccination numbers needed to achieve herd immunity. And there is mounting concern that the pandemic will become endemic, i.e., that it will… Read more »
Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Criminally stupid? How about just criminal?

Scott Norris
Guest

I’ve been asking for months now, “where are the lawyers and insurance companies?” especially as the vaccines start to get generally deployed. There’s no way a health care or senior care facility (food processing, too) should continue to be insured for general liability if the management doesn’t positively ensure they are taking commonsense precautions, and that means mandatory vaccinations. We do it for measles, we can do it for this. Food facilities have to have e.coli inspections and counter measures – we can do it for this. And anyone who doesn’t – when there is an inevitable case of someone getting injured – should be sued out of business.

storewanderer
Guest
2 months 1 day ago

If those “educated medical professionals” who you trust with your personal healthcare are not getting the vaccine, it may be worth seriously revisiting things here: 1. Why are they not getting it? 1a. If their reasons are so whack, do you trust them with your personal medical care going forward? 2. If they have given you high quality personal medical care over the years and you do trust them, is it worth considering their reasons for not getting this vaccine at this time more seriously?

Some medical providers I have spoken with are not real excited to get this at this time, as they feel they are being the “guinea pig.” They’re taking a wait-and-see approach.

Scott Norris
Guest

We should also differentiate among “medical providers” — we can’t equate the training and experience of a nursing assistant or senior care center attendant with an infectious disease doctor or a university researcher. Most of the folks on the front lines have not had training and experience in clinical investigation. My mom worked her entire career in various medical positions and picked up a lot of knowledge, but she’d be the first to say she wouldn’t know how to design an immunological study. Just because someone works in a medical facility doesn’t on its face mean they know any more about the virus from some random person on the street — and medical workplaces aren’t necessarily any better at communicating facts and logic to staff than any other setting….

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

We are at an interesting point in the vaccination process. Many people are working hard to secure a vaccination. Some have even resorted to scamming the process. While this is occurring, polls keep reporting that some segments of the population are saying they won’t get vaccinated when they get the opportunity to do so. My hope is as they see more and more of the population being vaccinated, they will realize their concerns are unfounded and when given the chance they too will get vaccinated.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust
As more people get the vaccine and don’t die from it, fear will be reduced for those who are reluctant. Of course, that seems to be balanced out by a doubling down of anti-vaccine misinformation. I listened to a webinar from Rockefeller University yesterday. It was all about the vaccines. Not being anything close to a virologist or a scientist in any way, there was much I did not understand. However I did understand the statistics, which were as up to date as can be. What I realized was that even the legitimate media is sending out, if not misinformation, then at least highlights of such minor exceptions (i.e. 1 of 500,000) to people’s reactions to the vaccine that it makes it sound like such reactions are the norm. An interesting aside from China. They have different priorities for their vaccines (which according to Rockefeller are 89 percent to 92 percent effective). In China, first in line for the vaccines are 18 to 50 year olds. Certainly that would not sell here, but the idea… Read more »
storewanderer
Guest
2 months 1 day ago
If the vaccines are successful and there are not too many questionable side effects, more people in the “wait and see” column will be more open to getting the vaccine. At this point this is still a rather fluid situation. It is not so simple as “get your COVID shots and go back to normal life.” It is more like hurry up and wait. You need two vaccines — do you need the one from the same vaccine maker twice? Or alternatively, J&J is coming up with a single dose vaccine, but it isn’t approved yet? Then this week you have the CEO of some other vaccine maker coming out and saying people may need these COVID vaccines for the next few years every year (this is one of the makers where you need 2 vaccines). Plus we keep hearing of all these new mutations of COVID that keep coming (natural for a virus to do this) and it is questionable if any of these vaccines will work against those. Lots of mixed messaging going… Read more »
Craig Sundstrom
Guest

It is what it is … which in this case isn’t very good (other than the sop that the polls seem accurate). So the questions are: (1) will the numbers improve, and (2) if they don’t, then what?

Conceivably retailers might be enlisted to help: earlier there was a discussion about things like requiring proof of vaccination for service, but personally I find it hard to picture that happening (there would be too much negative feedback and risk of losing customers to less demanding competitors); so perhaps there are “carrots” that can be tried.

Neither of these seem like great options.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I wouldn’t read too much into the early anecdotal reporting about nursing homes."
"50 percent of first responders (firemen) and health care workers in Miami-Dade county refused the vaccine. That’s one reason my friends and I were able to get it."
"I hope vaccine reluctance dissipates as vaccines offer a route out of the pandemic and are proven to be effective. Retailers should be planning for the worst..."

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