Walgreens has vaccinated hundreds of thousands of Americans against COVID-19 this year using a vaccine developed by Pfizer և German BioNTech. But the pharmacy network did not follow the instructions of the federal health officials about the terms of the second dose.
People are expected to receive two doses three weeks apart. However, Walgrins split them for four weeks as it made it easier for the company to make appointments.
There is no evidence that discontinuing additional doses for a week reduces the effectiveness of the vaccine. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a three-week break, the agency says doses of up to six weeks are acceptable if needed.
But Walgrins’ decision, which he did not make public, confused some clients and caught the attention of federal health officials. Kate Grusic, a spokeswoman for the CDC, said the agency had asked Walgrins to stop taking longer doses than recommended.
The company’s vaccine scheduling system defaults to all second doses four weeks after the first. Doses of the Moderna vaccine, also administered by Walgreens, are supposed to be four weeks apart. Using the same gap for both vaccines was “the easiest way to stop the process based on our capabilities at the time,” said Dr. Kevin Bann, Walgreens’ chief medical officer.
Walgreens is now changing its system. At the end of the week, the pharmacy will automatically prescribe people Pfizer doses three weeks apart, Ban said.
Walgreens is one of the largest in dozens of drugstore chains that provide vaccines provided by the states through a federal program that the White House announced would increase to 40,000 locations last week. Last week, Walgreens said it had given more than 8 million doses of the COVID vaccine, including 4 million in March, and expects to give 26 to 34 million by the end of August.
Walgreens, along with CVS, had previously worked to vaccinate other nursing homes, during which the chain delivered Pfizer doses three weeks apart.
The vaccine campaign is a business opportunity for Walgreens that generates revenue from vaccine management fees paid by the government – private payers as well as vaccine importers. The company requires people to create a Walgreens account to search for the vaccine prescription online.
Most other major pharmacies, including CVS և Rite Aid, adhere to the CDC guidelines for timing of second-dose dosing. For example, CVS is planning Pfizer second shots 20 to 23 days after the first shot, said TJ Crawford, the chain’s spokesman.
Some health experts believe that the United States should delay the second dose of the vaccine for longer than Walgreens did with the Pfizer vaccine. That way, more people can get partial protection through the first few shots. For example, Britain is delaying the second shooting for up to three months. Canada has begun delaying doses for up to four months.
But it was a three-week gap that underwent extensive clinical trials, with US officials և Pfizer executives not supporting alternative dosing schedules.
Pfizer spokeswoman Keith Longley, responding to the Walgreens schedule, said the safety and efficacy of the company’s vaccine had not been evaluated in doses that differed from the three-week gap in clinical trial volunteers.
It is generally arbitrary that Pfizer և Moderna vaccines, both of which use similar messenger RNA technology, have different dosing schedules. Pfizer’s decision to test its vaccine in less than two shots helped the company quickly complete its latest phase of clinical trials, reporting results from Moderna a week earlier than last November.
(Walgreens’s decision not to comply with CDC guidelines on Pfizer shooting range has confused some clients. h:
In New York City, Delmar, Mary DeTouris Pust, a writer who fired her first Pfizer at Walgreens late last month, tried in vain to reach a Walgreens representative to schedule her second dose a week earlier.
The Walgreens system currently allows people to re-register their second dose, but they can only do so the day before the appointment.
“I’m not happy about that,” DeTurris Poust said. “It gives me over a week because I’m not protected, so it means I’m worried about catching it or giving it to someone.”
Some health experts said they were not worried that Walgrins was planning a four-week dose.
“It simply came to our notice then. “Everyone has to put it in their context, in their risk factors, but I think this is a very sensible approach,” said Walgrins. doses of Pfizer should be given approximately three weeks apart.
But other experts say they are worried.
“Public health decision-making is not the role of a private, non-profit company, which should be guided by guidelines issued by the public health authority,” said Lawrence Gostin, Professor of World Law at the University of Orjown.
Dima Cato, a pharmacist at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, said he was concerned about how the public perceived inappropriate messages between doses of the same vaccine.
“As we try to build confidence in this epidemic, I think it can push us back,” Cato said.
Walgreens is not the only vaccine supplier to deliver second shots shortly after offer. Other countries have been doing this for months, especially in the early days of the spread of vaccines, when websites were less clear about which vaccines and how many doses to receive in the coming weeks, said Tinglong Dai, a researcher at Hopkins University Health.
The Stanford Health System in California plans to give two-shot vaccine doses 28 days apart to “keep our patients stable,” while vaccine deliveries are unpredictable, said Stan Uli Grecius, a spokesman for Stanford Medicine.
The Allegheny County Department of Health in Pennsylvania is doing the same at the Castle Shannon mass vaccination site, where 5,000 people are vaccinated weekly. “It makes it easier to manage staff և area restrictions when the site offers both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines,” said Amy Downs, a spokeswoman for the district. He said the county, which was scheduled to return later this month after three weeks of dosing Pfizer, stopped giving Moderna doses.
The vast majority of people in the United States get the second offer when it is offered, although more people are getting it as the spread of the vaccine expands.
CDC data as of March 28 show that the percentage of people who received their second filming after the suggested period, but increased by 7% in six weeks, from February 14 to less than 3%, according to Grusic, spokesman for the agency.