Federal health officials said on Tuesday they were ordering almost all drugstores and grocery store pharmacies to offer second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to people who received their first injection from another supplier.
According to Andy Slavitt, the White House’s senior advisor on the response to Covid-19, the main goal is to allow students who received their first injection on or near campus to receive their second dose at home. To do this, he said, pharmacies participating in a federal vaccine distribution program will set aside all residency requirements for vaccine recipients.
A growing number of Americans who received a first injection of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna vaccine are not receiving their second injection, in part because of access difficulties. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 5 million people, or nearly 8% of those who were partially vaccinated, missed their second dose.
While this is not a high rate compared to those seen for multidose vaccines against other conditions, some states have taken steps to prevent it from increasing.
College students are a difficult group to get the full vaccine. Many of those who became eligible recently got their first photo while still on campus, but will be gone for the summer by the time they have to take their second photo.
Other recipients may not have been able to get a second appointment with their original provider, or had an appointment that was canceled.
Many pharmacies were already distributing second doses of the vaccine to people who were vaccinated elsewhere. CVS stores, in particular, have become a destination for people scrambling to find a second dose, and a Walgreens spokeswoman said her company offers second doses regardless of where the first was. administered.
New York City officials said Tuesday the city has taken a similar approach, allowing people to receive a second photo on any site run by the city. The problem is less pronounced in the city than it is nationwide, with only about 5% of city residents missing their second dose, officials said.
People can schedule meetings at city venues in advance, or they can come in. They should bring proof of their first dose, such as a CDC vaccination card or electronic record, to make sure they receive the correct vaccine within the recommended timeframe.
“Our goal here is to continue to remind people to get that second dose, but one that works best,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference. “We will welcome them and continue to progress.”
Dr Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, said receiving a second dose at a different location than the first should be a last resort. “We want people to stick to their second dose appointments if they have already taken them,” he said.