Walmart and Midwestern grocer Hy-Vee said they’ve begun providing COVID-19 booster shots from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed their use.
In a blog post on Friday, Dr. John Wig, Walmart’s chief medical officer, said the company has authorized Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club pharmacies to administer boosters for the Moderna and J&J (Janssen) vaccines. West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee announced the availability of free Moderna and J&J booster doses at Hy-Vee Pharmacy locations across its eight-state region yesterday. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine booster received FDA and CDC approval in September.
Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccinations — both based on mRNA technology and requiring two shots about a month apart — have the same eligibility requirements for their boosters and can be administered starting at least six months after the second dose. They are authorized for individuals ages 65 and older; ages 18 and older who live in long-term care settings; ages 18 to 64 with a high risk for severe COVID-19; and ages 18 to 64 with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to COVID.
Based on different technology, the J&J COVID-19 vaccine requires one shot, and its booster can be administered two months after the initial vaccination to all adults.
“While COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective, over time their protection against the virus can decrease. Based on the latest scientific data, the CDC has found booster shots to be effective in ‘boosting’ the initial protections from COVID-19 vaccines, especially in at-risk populations,” Wig said in the blog.
“You can get your COVID-19 vaccine shots and booster shoots at your neighborhood Walmart or Sam’s Club pharmacy, conveniently available by both walk-up and appointment at all locations nationwide,” he added. “The federal government is providing the vaccine at no cost.”
The FDA and CDC also approved heterologous — or “mix and match” — use of the Pfizer, Moderna and J&J boosters with each provider’s primary COVID vaccine, as long as consumers have completed their primary vaccinations.
“There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose, providing they follow the booster timeline of their primary vaccine manufacturer,” Hy-Vee stated. “Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. The CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.”
Hy-Vee is offering $10 store gift cards to patients who complete their COVID-19 vaccination, including those who receive booster doses, with at its pharmacies or clinics through Nov. 1. The company operates more than 275 in-store and freestanding pharmacies and over 70 in-store retail health clinics.
“As the pandemic continues to impact the country, science has shown that vaccination continues to be the safest and most effective way to prevent COVID-19, including the most serious consequences of the disease, such as hospitalization and death,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement on the new booster shot authorizations. “The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations who are fully vaccinated. The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease.”
Despite the availability of boosters for all three federally approved COVID-19 vaccines, more than 65 million Americans remain unvaccinated, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky noted yesterday.
“These recommendations are another example of our fundamental commitment to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19,” Walensky stated. “The evidence shows that all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe — as demonstrated by the over 400 million vaccine doses already given. And they are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating Delta variant.”