Walmart, Hy-Vee and Stop & Shop are among the grocery retailers announcing the availability of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccination for adolescents since the Food and Drug Administration granted the vaccine emergency use authorization (EUA) earlier this week.
In line with the new FDA guidance, Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacists began administering the Pfizer vaccine — at pharmacies where it’s offered — to children ages 12 to 15 on Thursday. The EUA expands eligibility for the Pfizer shots, which requires two doses 21 days apart, from the previous age limit of 16 and older.
“This is great news, not just for the newly eligible cohort, but for the entire country. The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective in all ages — even better for those age 12-15 — at preventing symptomatic COVID-19,” Dr. Chinni Pulluru, senior director of clinical innovation, transformation and operations at Walmart U.S., said in a statement. “That means for every vaccinated adolescent, their risk of severe COVID-19 decreases — making it easier for schools to safely resume in-person teaching, creating the possibility for safe summer camps and outdoor extracurricular activities and giving parents one less thing to worry about.
“To put it another way: Expanded vaccine eligibility gets our country one step closer to safely and fully reopening,” Pulluru noted. “At Walmart, we want to make it as easy as possible for all eligible customers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, no matter their age. We’re proud to announce our pharmacies nationwide will start vaccinating adolescents with the authorized Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.”
Last week, all 5,100-plus Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies started providing COVID vaccines on a walk-up basis. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer also kicked off Get Out The Vaccine (GOTV), a national campaign to raise public awareness of the effectiveness and safety of coronavirus immunizations — and, in turn, raise the nation’s vaccination rate.
West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee also began administering the Pfizer vaccine to children ages 12 to 15 as of May 13, in line with the FDA’s EUA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recent approval of that vaccination for this age group. The Midwestern food and drug retailer said it has been offering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to people 16 and older for several weeks.
Minors getting the shot must have parental or guardian consent, Hy-Vee said, adding that a parent or guardian should accompany minors to both their first and second doses. The inoculations are available on a walk-in basis or by appointment.
Hy-Vee made COVID shots available at all of its 270-plus pharmacies across its Midwestern trade area at the beginning of April and then began providing them without an appointment in late April. And earlier this month, Chairman, CEO and President Randy Edeker participated in a call with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator and counselor to President Biden, to discuss the administration’s future rollout plans for COVID vaccines and retailers’ efforts to help underserved populations get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Stop & Shop yesterday announced that six of its in-store pharmacies in Long Island, N.Y., are now offering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 12 and older. The Quincy, Mass.-based supermarket chain, part of Ahold Delhaize USA, said the New York State PREP Act authorizes Stop & Shop’s qualified pharmacists in the state to administer vaccines to this expanded age group.
Stop & Shop Long Island pharmacies now offering the Pfizer vaccination for children ages 12 and up include Hicksville, Holbrook, Lake Ronkonkoma, Setauket and two locations in West Babylon.
Written consent from a parent or guardian is required for a Stop & Shop pharmacist to administer the Pfizer COVID vaccine to patients ages 12 to 18, and a parent or guardian must accompany any child under 16 to their vaccination, the retailer said. Vaccinations are available on a walk-up basis or by appointment, based on supply. Either the Moderna or the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine are also available in those six locations, as well as the 30 total Stop & Shop pharmacies on Long Island.
Stop & Shop’s more than 250 pharmacies in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey started providing same-day coronavirus immunizations last week.
“Stop & Shop has been proud to support New Yorkers throughout the pandemic, most recently by administering the COVID-19 vaccine,” stated Katie Thornell, director of pharmacy operations at Stop & Shop. “We are excited to begin providing the Pfizer vaccine to our customers as young as 12 years of age to help protect members of the community against COVID-19.”
The FDA granted EUA to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on May 10, and the CDC approved the vaccination’s expanded age designation on May 12. From March 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021, about 1.5 million COVID-19 cases in people ages 11 to 17 were reported to the CDC.
“The FDA’s expansion of the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age is a significant step in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic. Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations.”
In an update Monday on the nation’s COVID vaccination progress, President Joe Biden said the authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for the 12-to-15 age group means almost 17 million more Americans can now get vaccinated. He noted that about 3 million COVID cases have been reported overall among individuals under age 17.
“This new population is going to find the vaccine rollout fast and efficient,” Biden said in his remarks. “As of tomorrow, more than 15,000 pharmacies across this country will be ready to vaccinate this age group. Most of these pharmacies are close to a family home as their kid’s school is to their family home.”
Through the early morning of May 14, 46.8% of the U.S. population had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 36.2% had been fully vaccinated, with 268.4 million vaccines administered of the 341.9 million delivered by manufacturers, according to data from the CDC. Among seniors, 84.2% had received at least one dose (72.1% fully vaccinated), while 59.1% of Americans ages 18 and older had gotten at least one shot (46.1% fully vaccinated).