HONOLULU (KHON2) — The COVID-19 vaccinations at nursing homes around the state started on Monday, Dec. 28.

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Due to the high mortality rate for the virus inside these facilities, the federal government contracted with pharmacies such as CVS Health to vaccinate elders as a priority.

The CVS Health and Longs Regional Director Scott Sutton said pharmacists will vaccinate the residents and workers at long-term care facilities. He said they would visit less than 10 long-term care homes on their first day, but they plan to vaccinate residents of 40 locations.

“We’re actually assigned the clinics from CDC and HHS,” Sutton said. “Once we assign those clinics, we have to make that communication with the facility and ask for a specific headcount that they would have.”

While CVS Health and Walgreens make their way through nursing homes in the state, the state’s Department of Health finalizes its vaccination plan for who falls in the next phases.

So far, it is only been workers at hospitals, clinics and first responders with access to the shot.

The Lt. Gov. Josh Green said he hopes to get through the first phase in the next two months, he said the first phase will include critical infrastructure workers.

Green said, “The food-service workforce, if they’re at high risk or certain educators that are high risk, there are lots of groups and those will be the final touches on 1B versus 1C.”   

A big consideration in the state’s vaccination plan is how many and how quickly can the DOH get the vaccines.

On Monday, the department said it had received more than 44,000 vaccines, and that it is on track to get more than 60,000 vaccines by the end of the year.

But even if sectors like education fall within the first phase, certain groups will still get priority.

Green said, “There are a lot of people in education, who are younger and doing administrative skills, and they might come a little later.”  

The CVS Health federal contract will go beyond nursing homes and will work with the CDC to roll out the second phase of vaccines.

Sutton said, “Phase two is in conjunction with our with the government, CDC, so they’ll dictate what that looks like and who would receive the vaccine at that time.”  

The CDC’s vaccine framework, which the state uses as a guide, includes teachers, school staff, people in prisons and its workers.

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