Walgreens to schedule 2nd Pfizer shots after recommended three weeks instead of four
Walgreens officials said Wednesday they are working to ensure people inoculated with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine get a second dose in the recommended three weeks.
Walgreens, which is inoculating thousands against the virus, had come under fire for not following CDC guidelines for three-week intervals between the first and second Pfizer doses. The pharmacy chain is also administering Moderna's vaccine that requires four weeks between shots and was using that interval for both types of vaccines.
Now, "we're continuing to work on system enhancements to our scheduler, and this week plan to have new functionality in place allowing people to schedule Pfizer second-dose appointments within a three-week time frame," said Fraser Engerman, Walgreens' senior director of external relations.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control advises getting the second Pfizer dose three weeks after the first, noting "you should get your second shot as close to the recommended three-week interval as possible."
"However, your second dose may be given up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose, if necessary," the agency states.
Engerman explained that "in many states, our stores carry COVID-19 vaccines from multiple manufacturers simultaneously, as determined by federal and state allocation."
"We have been 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," Engerman added.
Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said, "This is a Walgreens policy across the nation and it is not specific to Illinois. IDPH guidance to providers is to use the three-week recommended interval from the CDC and our understanding is that Walgreens has committed to start scheduling second doses for Pfizer-BioNTech three weeks apart."