CVS Health Corp., poised to play a major role in distributing the coronavirus vaccine to the general public in Connecticut, said Tuesday it expects to eventually administer up to 25 million vaccines a month across the country.
“We are ready in our CVS pharmacies to administer the vaccine,” Karen S. Lynch, who will take over on Feb. 1 as the health care giant’s chief executive, said. “We have over 90,000 clinicians, through our pharmacists, through our pharmacy techs, through our nurses and nurse practitioners to administer the vaccine.”
In Connecticut, CVS Health, which owns Hartford-based insurer Aetna, operates 180 pharmacy locations. CVS could not immediately say Tuesday how many vaccines it expected to administer monthly in Connecticut.
Connecticut now will be shifting to the next phase of coronavirus vaccinations for residents who are 65 and older and those who have at least one health condition that places them at high-risk if they contract COVID-19, possibly as early as next week.
Lynch, who spoke during a conference call with health care industry analysts, said CVS has developed a digital app for scheduling appointments.
“We’ll have a ‘round-trip ticket’ so to speak so you’ll get your second scheduled appointment and then we can follow up with you with texts and things like that and a phone call because that is a big thing relative to the vaccine, making sure people get their second shot,” she said.
In October, CVS said it was launching an effort to hire 15,000 nationwide to respond to the double hit of the seasonal flu and COVID-19 pandemic. More than 10,000 of those positions were for full- and part-time pharmacy technicians, who assist pharmacists.
CVS already had been moving rapidly in the direction of using data and analytics to guide health care, combined with digital delivery of health care services, a trend across the industry.
The pandemic has accelerated the trend and with it, CVS’ push into the digital realm, Lynch said.
“There has been a massive increase in telemedicine use with approximately 40 times more people accessing virtual care compared with pre-COVID levels,” she said. “Many of these changes will be permanent and establish a new normal.”
CVS is providing coronavirus testing at 4,000 sites nationwide and now, with the start of vaccinations at its pharmacies, more attention is being drawn to CVS’ goal of making its pharmacies an alternative site for health care, Lynch said.
In 2020, CVS Health opened 600 HealthHUBs in CVS pharmacies across the country, Lynch said. HealthHUBs are staffed with nurses and other medical professionals that can provide services between doctor visits and eliminate trips to the emergency room. HealthHUBs also are expected to play an increasing role in telehealth visits.
Lynch said 40% of the company’s “Return Ready” coronavirus testing clients are new to CVS Health.
“Over 6 million people who tested for COVID at a CVS location are not currently CVS customers,” Lynch said.©2021 Hartford Courant. Visit at courant.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.