Some people in N.C. concerned Walgreens is scheduling 1st and 2nd Pfizer doses 4 weeks apart

Updated: Mar. 29, 2021 at 5:18 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - If you’ve recently scheduled a COVID-19 vaccine through Walgreens, you may have noticed your doses are a minimum of 28 days apart for both Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Per the CDC, it is recommended that Pfizer vaccine doses are spaced 21 days apart and that Moderna doses are spaced 28 days apart.

When Cheri Lovell signed up for the Pfizer vaccine through Walgreens, she was surprised to see her doses would be four weeks apart.

“I share a home with my mom who is in her 80s and I take an immune suppressing drug, as my doctor says it flatlines my immune system when I take it,” Lovell said.

This is why she was anxious to get both shots as soon as possible.

According to the CDC, “If it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval and a delay in vaccination is unavoidable, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be administered up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. Currently, only limited data are available on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window.”

But Lovell does not believe this falls under an unavoidable circumstance.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Walgreens told WBTV:

“In many states, our stores carry COVID-19 vaccines from multiple manufacturers simultaneously, as determined by federal and state allocation. The CDC states that second doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be administered up to 42 days after the first dose, but no earlier than the recommended interval of 21 and 28 days respectively. We are automatically scheduling patients’ second doses to occur a minimum of 28 days following their first dose to ensure that no dose is administered earlier than the authorized intervals and patients are able to complete the series vaccination. Walgreens is currently working on system enhancements to our scheduler to account for multiple manufacturers with different dose #2 schedules to automatically account for scheduling patients’ second dose either at day 21 or day 28.

“At this time, our pharmacists have been instructed to proactively educate patients receiving dose #1 of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine that the 28-day interval is appropriate based on CDC guidelines. After day 20, patients have the option reschedule their second dose appointment on or can work with directly with their local store to reschedule based on appointment availability.”

We also took these concerns to the CEO of Tryon Medical Partners in Charlotte.

Dr. Dale Owen says he understands why the pharmacy is doing it this way to help with planning.

He said from his own perspective, the state does not provide information on the vaccine type and how many doses until a few days before it arrives, so it is tough to prepare.

Walgreens is part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program so it is relying on information from the federal government week to week.

Dr. Owen also says medically it does not matter.

“There is no medical reason for concern in regards to whether this is 3 or 4, 5 or 6 weeks even,” Dr. Owen said. “We should have the same level of immunity.”

Lovell still did not want to wait another week if she did not have to, so she opted to get her second dose through CVS.

“You have to do what you have to do, right?” she said.

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