Hy-Vee has begun offering third doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at its pharmacies.
Customers can get free third doses of the vaccinations — each requires two shots — on a walk-in basis, West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee said Friday. The Midwestern grocer operates more than 275 Hy-Vee Pharmacy locations chainwide.
Hy-Vee’s move to offer an additional COVID vaccine dosage came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Aug. 13 started recommending a third shot for people whose immune systems are compromised moderately to severely. On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended emergency use authorizations for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations to allow for the use of another dose in certain immunocompromised people.
“This official CDC recommendation — which follows FDA’s decision to amend the emergency use authorizations of the vaccines — is an important step in ensuring everyone, including those most vulnerable to COVID-19, can get as much protection as possible from COVID-19 vaccination,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in announcing the booster dose recommendation. “While people who are immunocompromised make up about 3% of the U.S. adult population, they are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness,” she noted.
Hy-Vee is urging that pharmacy patients getting a third dose bring their COVID-19 vaccination record card to their appointment, since the card indicates when they received their last dose and the vaccine manufacturer. The third Pfizer and Moderna shots should be administered no sooner than 28 days after the second dose, and people should receive the same vaccine manufacturer as in their previous doses, according to the CDC. So far, another vaccine dose hasn’t been authorized for the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine.
“After a thorough review of the available data, the FDA determined that this small, vulnerable group may benefit from a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Vaccines,” stated Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock.
Currently, Hy-Vee is offering $10 store gift cards to patients who complete their COVID vaccination at a Hy-Vee pharmacy between June 1 and Nov. 1. The retailer said those who get a third Pfizer or Moderna vaccine during that time also are eligible to receive the $10 gift card.
Third doses of the Pfizer vaccine also became available for eligible patients on Saturday at the Iowa State Fair, where Hy-Vee is providing free COVID-19 vaccinations through Aug. 22. Patients can receive their shot at Booth No. 40050 between the Grand Avenue gate and the Elwell Family Food Center on the west side of the fairgrounds.
Hy-Vee noted that those seeking a third COVID shot must self-attest that they have severely to moderately compromised immune systems but don’t need to show proof of their condition, as per CDC guidelines. People considered severely to moderately immunocompromised by the CDC include recipients of organ or stem cell transplants, people with advanced or untreated HIV infection, active recipients of treatment for cancer, and people taking medications that weaken the immune system, among other conditions.
“At a time when the Delta variant [of the virus] is surging, an additional vaccine dose for some people with weakened immune systems could help prevent serious and possibly life-threatening COVID-19 cases within this population,” the CDC’s Walensky added.
Hy-Vee made COVID shots available at all of its pharmacies at the beginning of April and then started providing them on a walk-up basis in late April. Patients ages 12 and older are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, but the Moderna vaccination is only for those ages 18 and older.
Overall, Hy-Vee operates more than 280 stores in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
*EDITOR'S NOTE: Article updated with correction: Third COVID shots are not the same as booster shots.