Some families of long-term care residents eagerly await vaccine roll-out in facilities

The Chief Medical Officer of Walgreens laid out the pharmacy store chain’s plans Tuesday for vaccinating long-term care facility residents and staff.

It’s a move that can’t come soon enough for Carolyn Croshaw and her mother, who’s been a resident of the Life Care Center of Kirkland for more than two years.

“She can’t hardly wait,” Croshaw said. “She’s sitting there waiting. I talk to her every night. My sister talks to her every day. That’s all the conversation is—'When do you think they’re going to come in here? When do you think we’re going to get our vaccine?’ I said, ‘Maybe next week.’”

Croshaw’s mother, who did not want her name mentioned, is 99 and saw her own roommate pass away from the COVID-19.

Croshaw said she’s only been able to visit her mother through the window or outside, wearing masks and having no physical contact.

“We’re already working with these long-term care facilities,” Walgreens Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Ban said. Walgreens and CVS plan to vaccinate thousands of long-term care residents and staff across the country. Ban said they are prepared for the storage demands of the Pfizer vaccine.

“We built out a system whereby we have these hubs,” he said, “and we have ultra-cold freezers that we keep the vaccine in until we’re ready to move it out to the long-term care facilities.”

“When could the general public possibly get these vaccines at Walgreens?” KIRO 7 asked.

“In phase two, when we begin vaccination for the general population, we expect that might happen towards the end of March, let’s say that’ll start in early spring, April,” Ban said.

Walgreens will also be educating the public about the safety of these vaccines.

Su Wilson’s mother June is at Life Care. She and her husband are vaccine skeptics and say June has already had the virus.

“I will vote for no,” Wilson said. “But I have four other sisters they have different opinions than I. So—I guess—we all have to vote.” Carolyn’s mother just wants to get back to normal life.

“She said, ‘I just want my hair cut,’” Croshaw said. “My mother cannot wait for them to stick that needle in her arm.”

Phase 1a, which Washington is in now, will be followed by at least Phase 1b and possibly 1c. Who’s included in those for Washington haven’t been announced. The state has also not indicated which members of the public will be included in Phase 2.