Two pharmacy chains that will provide the coronavirus vaccine to most of Washington state’s long-term care residents and staff have relaxed their requirements for written consent, which some experts saw as a significant hurdle in the process.
CVS and Walgreens will begin vaccinations at nursing homes in the state Dec. 28 and will ultimately visit more than 2,600 of Washington’s long-term care facilities. Until this week, the chains told facilities that consent would have to be obtained through written forms. Walgreens also indicated that forms had to be filled out the day of vaccination.
Experts told The Seattle Times this would pose a challenge to facilities, as many residents need a family member or health care proxy to sign for them, yet facilities are mostly locked down and staff are stretched thin.
In response to the concern, CVS changed its policy earlier this week to allow verbal or electronic consent, although written consent is still preferred. A company spokesperson said CVS communicated the change to facilities this week.
Walgreens said it “provided flexible formats” and would allow facilities to follow their standard protocols, according to a statement. Walgreens spokespeople did not respond Friday to clarify what options would be allowed.
Dr. Sabine von Preyss-Friedman, president of the Washington State Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine and a member of a state COVID-19 advisory group, told The Seattle Times last week she was also concerned with other aspects of the pharmacies’ plans.
The pharmacies have asked for copies of insurance cards, which she believes will add another logistical hurdle. They have also planned to visit each facility three times, which von Preyss-Friedman said is not enough to space out vaccines for staff, who may have to miss work because of side effects. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses.
The pharmacies did not provide information about whether those policies would change but said they were working with facilities to address concerns.
The pharmacy chains will vaccinate long-term care residents and staff across the country through a federal partnership. The doses for the program come out of states’ supplies.