We have been following concerns from the assisted living community, where COVID-19 vaccines have yet to begin, despite promises from the state to be a priority.
Spectrum Bay News 9’s Cait McVey spoke exclusively with Jared Moskowitz, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Here is that interview:
Cait McVey: “The topic at hand - assisted living facilities. So I’m just going to jump right in. People are frustrated the general public is being vaccinated ahead of assisted living facilities.”
Jared Moskowitz: “Not only is that a fair question, but it’s a fair frustration. We turned on, just like every other state except for I think one, the long-term care federal program. We then wanted to work obviously with our federal partners and we let that program go on for a little bit. But it’s clear that program is not working. But look, while that wasn’t working the state needed to move forward to other groups.”
Cait McVey: “Wouldn’t you then activate the strike teams as you did in the beginning with the nursing homes, prior to vaccinating the general public? I mean that was the promise in the beginning. To get to long-term care first.”
Jared Moskowitz: “Look, sometimes you have the best laid plans and you have to adjust them on the fly. This plan that the federal government gave us doesn’t work in Florida. We have 5,000 facilities here and the workforce that was hired to get into these facilities quickly did not meet the moment.”
Cait McVey: “So now you’re stepping in. What is your goal from here on out?”
Jared Moskowitz: “My goal is to get a first shot in arm in all of the long-term care facilities by the end of the month.”
Cait McVey: “OK. I’m going to relay all of this to our viewers. I’m sure that’s something they want to hear and will be reassuring. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today.”
Jared Moskowitz: “Of course, thank you for the opportunity.”
Along with saying he feels CVS and Walgreens didn't hire a large enough workforce, Moskowitz said attempts to activate the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care program sooner where unsuccessful because of a two-week lag with the federal program. Spectrum Bay News 9 reached out to The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC for a response and we are waiting to hear back.
We also reached out to CVS and Walgreens. Spokespersons for both pharmacies previously told Spectrum Bay News 9 that the state sets the start date for vaccinations in both nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Currently, that planned start date for both CVS and Walgreens is January 11.
CVS also provided comment regarding its workforce:
"As we announced in October, we are hiring 10,000 pharmacy technicians to support our COVID-19 response efforts, including vaccinations. We are also hiring pharmacists in certain geographies based on concentrations of long-term care facilities that selected CVS Pharmacy as a COVID-19 vaccination partner. We continue to adjust our hiring levels to meet demand as has been the case since the start of the pandemic."