Walgreens and CVS are administering a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to certain immunocompromised patients after federal health officials said the extra shot would "boost" their immunity as the delta variant continues to drive new infections.
|CVS||CVS HEALTH CORP.||87.68||+0.16||+0.18%|
|WBA||WALGREENS BOOTS ALLIANCE, INC.||49.22||+0.22||+0.45%|
The pharmacy chains began administering booster shots of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines over the weekend to transplant patients or those who have severely weakened immune systems after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave them the green light to do so.
This "allows doctors to boost immunity in certain immunocompromised individuals who need extra protection from COVID-19," Dr. Janet Woodcock, the FDA’s acting commissioner, said in a statement.
Walgreens says the shots will be given to patients who are "moderately to severely immunocompromised." This includes patients who are undergoing cancer treatment, living with HIV or who are receiving immunosuppressive treatments as well as stem cell or organ transplant recipients, the company said.
Meanwhile, CVS confirmed to FOX Business that it will administer the extra dose to "to eligible immunocompromised patients according to guidelines" shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It’s harder for vaccines to rev up an immune system suppressed by certain medications and diseases, which means those patients don’t always get the same protection as otherwise healthy people. However, small studies suggest for at least some, an extra dose may help.
The FDA determined that transplant recipients and others with a similar level of compromised immunity can receive a third dose of the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna at least 28 days after getting their second shot. However, federal health officials stopped short of mentioning immune-compromised patients who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The FDA's announcement comes as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus continues to surge through much of the country, fueling new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Same-day appointments are available on a walk-in basis at certain Walgreens locations, according to the company. Additionally, each patient is required to bring their vaccination record to appointments and "attest to their eligibility."
Meanwhile, CVS "strongly" encourages patients to schedule an appointment online. CVS patients will be required to prove that they are eligible for a third dose "during the scheduling process and at the time of receiving their vaccination," a CVS spokesperson told FOX Business.
Walgreens Chief Medical Officer Kevin Ban said the company is working to vaccinate "vulnerable populations as quickly and safely as possible" and credited the company's team of pharmacists and technicians as well as its infrastructure for its success in doing so.
"As one of the first companies to begin providing these vaccines, we have an experienced team of pharmacists and technicians, as well as the infrastructure to support the increased demand for these vaccines," Ban said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.