A Fort Worth, TX-based senior living owner and operator is taking COVID-19 vaccination into its own hands, becoming certified by the Lone Star State to directly vaccinate its residents, employees and essential caregivers.

Civitas Senior Living has been certified as a COVID-19 vaccine provider by the Texas Department of State Health Services. This move means that its providers can vaccinate residents and staff without relying on the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care on-site vaccination program.

A spokesperson for the company told McKnight’s Senior Living that all Civitas communities nationwide have begun vaccination clinics with Walgreens through the federal pharmacy vaccination program and will continue using the program until it is complete.  As of Jan. 29, all Civitas communities, including independent living, assisted living and memory care, completed their first-round vaccination clinics under the federal program. By Friday, 66% of its communities nationwide are expected to have completed their second-round vaccination clinics.

But the new vaccination provider designation allows the provider to continue providing vaccinations that meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria once the federal vaccination program ends. The spokesperson said it is the only senior living company, to its knowledge, to have received this certification. The company now is working through the application process in other states where it owns or manages communities, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky and Oklahoma.

Civitas Chief Operating Officer Misty Miller called the move a “game-changer” in its ongoing fight to keep residents and staff safe from the coronavirus.

“With this new state of Texas certification, we won’t have to wait for local pharmacies to set up vaccination clinics at our communities,” she said in a statement. “Civitas’ nurses will administer the vaccinations themselves and be able to respond to our communities’ needs swiftly and efficiently, providing necessary vaccines to our residents, employees and families while keeping them safe and protected.”

Civitas is partnering with Austin Geriatric Specialists to provide medical oversight and prescribing authority for the ongoing vaccination effort. The senior living company had to meet the state’s regulations and protocols related to vaccination storage, handling and monitoring, as well as complete training required by the CDC.

In addition to vaccinating its 2,527 residents and 1,700 staff members based in Texas, Civitas also will vaccinate 2,209 essential caregivers (family and friends identified by residents) who meet CDC criteria for Phase 1b priority groups. Phase 1b includes about 49 million people, including nonhealthcare frontline essential workers and older adults aged 75 or more years. 

The company has submitted its request for its first allotment of the Moderna vaccine and will begin administering it as part of its ongoing role as a vaccine provider.