SpartanNash is reopening a onetime Family Fare supermarket in Grand Rapids, Mich., to host COVID-19 vaccine booster clinics through the rest of October.
Plans call for SpartanNash pharmacy staff to provide free Pfizer/BioNTech COVID booster shots to high-risk residents at the former Family Fare site, located at 4325 Breton Rd. SE in Grand Rapids, starting tomorrow and in Thursday clinics on Oct. 21 and 28, the grocery distributor said yesterday. Patients must register online for the 20-minute booster appointments at the clinics, which will administer shots from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.
People eligible for the booster include individuals who completed their first and second dose of the Pfizer vaccine more than six months ago and are either age 65 and older and residents in a long-term care facility; age 50 to 64 with an underlying medical condition; and age 18 to 49 with an underlying medical condition or who work or live in a high-risk setting.
Grand Rapids-based SpartanNash noted that it retooled the onetime Family Fare grocery and pharmacy store for clinic use amid the closure of many COVID vaccine “surge centers” from the earlier part the pandemic. Citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates, the company said such clinic locations are expected to provide 80% of all booster shots to communities. SpartanNash reported that it aims to administer 400 shots on each clinic day.
“At SpartanNash, we remain committed to making it as convenient as possible to get vaccinated and receive booster shots, especially for our high-risk community members,” Eddie Garcia, director of pharmacy at SpartanNash, said in a statement.
Flu vaccinations also will be available at the clinics and are safe to administer at the same time as the COVID-19 booster shots, SpartanNash said. The company already offers COVID vaccines and boosters at the nearly 90 pharmacies in its 146 corporate-owned supermarkets, including under the Family Fare, D&W Fresh Market, VG’s Grocery, Martin’s Super Markets and Family Fresh Market banners. Since January, SpartanNash pharmacies also have partnered with local health care systems, municipal health departments and others to provide COVID immunizations.
So far, the Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) only for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine booster. On Oct. 14 and 15, the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) plans to meet to discuss giving EUA status to adult booster doses for the two-shot Moderna and single-shot Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID vaccines. The committee also will examine the use of boosters different from the vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson — used in the primary vaccination series, aka a heterologous or “mix and match” booster.
“Vaccines are one of the most important interventions for bringing an end to the ongoing pandemic. It’s critical that as many eligible individuals as possible get vaccinated as soon as possible,” stated Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Once vaccinated, we want to ensure that individuals continue to be protected against the adverse effects of COVID-19. The available data make clear that protection against symptomatic COVID-19 in certain populations begins to decrease over time, so it’s important to evaluate the information on the use of booster doses in various populations.”