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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Only about 14% of the roughly 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses distributed to nursing home residents and staff have been administered, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The slower-than-ideal rollout illustrates the complexity of vaccinating what should be one of the easiest populations to reach — and one that remains extremely vulnerable to the virus.

The state of play: The federal government has partnered with CVS and Walgreens to administer vaccines to the vast majority of long-term care facilities.

  • CVS — which expects to vaccinate up to 4 million residents and staff at more than 40,000 facilities — began administering shots in 12 states the week of Dec. 21, and in another 36 states plus Washington, D.C. last week.
  • A CVS spokespesman said the rollout is going largely according to plan: "We’ve encountered no delays, save for some difficulties in getting confirmation from facilities on clinic dates and requests to avoid vaccinating on or around the holidays."
  • And some states began vaccinations in a specific subset of long-term care facilities, the spokesman added.

The other side: West Virginia opted out of the federal program, and Gov. Jim Justice said last week that every long-term care facility in the state now has doses in hand.

  • "West Virginia is a smaller state, but this still speaks to the delays with the federal model when they are wrapping up the first round and many long-term care facilities in other states have yet to be even offered the vaccination," said David Grabowski, a health policy professor at Harvard.

Between the lines: Vaccine hesitancy is a problem, especially among staff.

  • Last week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said about 60% of the state's nursing home staffers who were offered the vaccine declined it, while 85% of nursing home residents have opted in.
  • Getting consent from residents "has also slowed things down," Grabowski said.

The bottom line: Every day nursing home residents remain unvaccinated is another day they're at risk of catching the virus that is circulating prolifically around the country.

Go deeper

People of color disadvantaged in coronavirus vaccine effort

Expand chart
Data: GoodRx, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Communities of color tend to have fewer pharmacies per capita, putting them at a disadvantage in the coronavirus vaccination effort.

Why it matters: If racial disparities aren't addressed in the vaccination effort, including by setting up alternative vaccine sites, communities of color will fall even further behind in a pandemic that has already highlighted deep structural racism within the health care system.

Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategy

Biden signs executive orders on Jan. 21. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

"It's gonna get worse before it gets better": President Biden expects 100,000 Americans to die from COVID-19 during his first six weeks in office.

The big picture: Biden said he's putting America on a wartime footing against the virus, signing 10 executive orders today alone.

17 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives

President Biden's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci acknowledged on CNN's "New Day" Friday that the Trump administration's resistance to following the science on coronavirus policy "very likely" cost lives.

Why it matters: Fauci, the government's top infectious diseases expert, clashed on numerous occasions with former President Trump after contradicting him on scientific issues like the efficacy of masks and the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine in combating COVID-19.