what vaccine is cvs using
Federal and state authorities have developed guidelines to prioritize vulnerable populations in the first phase of the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended the following groups be prioritized before the general public:
- Phase 1a: health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities
- Phase 1b: frontline essential workers and adults 75 years of age and older
- Phase 1c: adults 65-74 years of age, individuals age 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers
In early January, the federal Administration expanded Phase 1b to include adults 65 years of age and older.
Each state can choose to adopt federal recommendations or implement their own prioritization guidelines. While we do not know the exact timing, vaccines may be available to the general public as soon as April or May.
As part of the vaccine rollout, CVS Health is currently working with several states through the federal partnership with the CDC or through a direct partnership with the state. Frequently check vaccine availability on this page for the latest updates on when members of these prioritized groups can make online appointments for vaccinations at CVS Pharmacy locations in their area. Timing and eligibility will vary from state to state, according to state guidelines.
CVS Health immunizers include pharmacists, pharmacy interns and trained pharmacy technicians, as well as other qualified health care professionals depending on each state’s specific regulations. All CVS Health immunizers are certified according to company requirements, trained in the administration of immunizations, and hold an active CPR certification.
The first COVID-19 vaccines to become available are not yet approved for use in young children. The clinical trials conducted to date by Pfizer tested its vaccine’s safety and efficacy in patients 16 years of age and older. Moderna’s vaccine was tested in patients 18 years of age and older. Researchers are conducting additional studies on how the vaccines affect younger children. CVS Health is monitoring those trials and will follow the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the age of individuals eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
When patients make an appointment for their initial shot online or through the CVS app, they are prompted to schedule an appointment for their second dose at the same time. The second dose is scheduled within the appropriate timeframe, allowing enough time for a potential reschedule of the appointment, if needed. CVS Health has implemented a detailed tracking system to make sure we know who received which vaccine and to help ensure they get the second dose of the same vaccine. Upon receiving their first dose, patients are provided with a vaccine card with all relevant vaccination information. Detailed reporting will be shared with state, local or territorial public health authorities.
At this time, our select CVS Pharmacy locations that are currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible populations have either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, not both. As we are able to expand the number of pharmacies offering the vaccine in the coming months, patients will be able to see which pharmacies offer which vaccine as part of the digital scheduling experience on CVS.com prior to making an appointment.
As part of the scheduling process on CVS.com, patients are asked to attest that all information provided during appointment set up is truthful and accurate. Some states will also require the collection of IDs to verify eligibility and we are complying with that requirement. We reserve the right to cancel appointments if it is determined that information provided for establishing eligibility is not truthful.
The COVID-19 vaccine is no cost with insurance or through a federal program for the uninsured.
Once we are able to begin vaccinating the general public and vaccines are widely available at CVS Pharmacy locations, an appointment will be required to receive a vaccination. Customers will be able to easily schedule their vaccinations—both the initial shot and the required second dose—at CVS.com or through the CVS app. Anyone requiring assistance with the scheduling tool or without access to a computer or mobile device will be encouraged to contact CVS Customer Service.
The FDA has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines which have been shown to be safe and effective as determined by data from the manufacturers and findings from large clinical trials. These data demonstrate that the known and potential benefits of this vaccine outweigh the known and potential harms of becoming infected with COVID-19. CVS Health is only administering vaccines that have been authorized for use by the FDA and our COVID-19 vaccination services are being conducted in compliance with CDC guidance for safe delivery of vaccines.
The most commonly reported side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which typically lasted several days, were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. Of note, more people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose, so it is important for vaccination providers and recipients to expect that there may be some side effects after either dose, but even more so after the second dose. The most commonly reported side effects of the Moderna vaccine were similar, including injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain and chills. In rare instances, anaphylaxis, an acute and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, can occur.
CVS Health immunizers are trained in the safe administration of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use by the FDA, including identifying and treating allergic reactions. The vaccination procedures include a patient screening checklist to assess the risk of reaction. All patients are monitored for 15 minutes after administration of the injection, or longer for people with a history of severe allergic reactions. Our immunizers are equipped with appropriate medications, such as epinephrine and antihistamines. Further information on COVID-19 Vaccines and allergic reactions can be found here.
The Federal Pharmacy Partnership, announced last November and activated on February 2, 2021, includes 21 pharmacy chains, including CVS Health. Under this program, pharmacy partners will receive direct distributions of vaccine allowing them to offer COVID-19 vaccines in communities across the country. Patient eligibility for the vaccine is determined by states, with most states prioritizing health care workers, seniors, and certain categories of frontline essential workers in the initial phases.
Given the extremely limited supply, however, the number of pharmacies offering vaccine in each state is very limited initially. As supply increases, the number of states, as well as the number of pharmacies within each state, where CVS Health is able to provide the vaccine will increase. Eventually, nearly all of our 9,900 pharmacies will offer the vaccine. Assuming adequate supply of the vaccine and supplies, CVS Health has the capacity to administer 20-25 million doses a month.
The Federal Pharmacy Program is different from the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care that was activated in December. As part of the long-term care partnership, the federal government directly distributes vaccine to CVS Health, Walgreens, and select Managed Health Care Associates pharmacies. Those pharmacies are conducting onsite clinics at more than 75,000 facilities across the country, often delivering vaccines at patients’ bedsides.
Why is CVS Health vaccinating in some states and not others?
With the activation of the next phase of the vaccination program announced on February 2, the federal government identified the 11 states to partner with CVS Pharmacy to deliver vaccinations to priority populations.
It is important to emphasize that as part of CVS Health’s federal partnership in both the long-term care setting and in the initial, limited rollout to priority populations in a retail pharmacy setting, the criteria for which states can receive the vaccine, timing and vaccine supply is determined by the federal government, and eligibility is determined by the state. In some cases, the federal government may activate the vaccination program with different pharmacy partners in different states.
We understand making an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine can be a frustrating experience, given the limited number of vaccines that have been allotted to CVS Health by the state and federal governments. In most (if not all) states, the number of individuals who are eligible to receive the vaccine under the state’s rules far outnumber the state’s available doses. As we receive additional shipments of vaccines, more appointments will open up on CVS.com, so we encourage you to continue to check for an open appointment at a CVS Pharmacy in your area.