Richmond City leaders raise concerns about vaccine equity on southside

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Some Richmond City leaders are calling on CVS Pharmacy to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available to communities on Richmond’s Southside.

City Council Members Michael Jones and Reva Trammell gathered outside of the CVS on Walmsley Blvd Wednesday. The pharmacy said this location is being used as a depot store, where vaccine doses designated for the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program are being delivered and then distributed out to those facilities.

CVS was contracted by the federal government to assist with vaccinations at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

“It is not fair to use this site located in the area simply as a pseudo-storage facility and not also as a vaccination site,” said Jones. “We’re not here to take doses from anybody. We just want intentionality on our side of the river.”

Jerry Blow, Sr., a resident in the 8th voter district, said the South Richmond community is in need of accessible vaccination sites. “I see the poverty. Let’s call it what it is. I see the poverty, I see people having a hard time making ends meet,” he said.

CVS responded with the following statement to 8News.

CVS Health is committed to reaching people of color and underserved communities to help ensure health equity as we work to vaccinate all Americans. Our presence in communities across the country, including in Richmond, uniquely positions us to be able to educate vulnerable populations and connect them with vaccine administration services. 

More information about our commitment to vaccine equity can be found in the national announcement we made today.

Also, under the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, we are vaccinating residents and staff at identified long-term care facilities based on federal and state prioritization guidelines, using vaccine doses provided by the federal government. As of 4pm today, we’ve administered more than 131,000 vaccine doses to patients and staff in over 870 long-term care facilities in Virginia. We completed vaccine administration in all of the Skilled Nursing Facilities partnered with CVS in Virginia— and are 76% finished with second doses in Assisted Living and other LTC facilities in the state. We are on track to complete both doses of vaccine administration by mid-March. 

You can find the LTC program data here.

CVS Health

The pharmacy also adds that they look forward to expanding to additional stores in Richmond when they receive more doses of vaccine.

Meanwhile, Jones said if he does not see a plan in the next several weeks, he will call on the community to potentially change their pharmacy.

“If CVS is unwilling to come to the table with a viable solution, then I will be calling for other measures from community members, not to exclude the potential for a neighborhood boycott,” said Jones.

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