Shoppers Slam CVS and Walgreens for "Frustrating" Vaccine Rollout
Customers seeking the new booster are dealing with last-minute cancellations.
The coronavirus is still a major concern for many across the country—especially as we head into the colder months, which have seen COVID cases surge in the past. Fortunately, updated COVID booster shots have just been pushed out to the public in order to better protect against the variants currently circulating. But while you might expect it to be easier than ever to get a COVID booster, certain pharmacies are being slammed by customers on social media for their vaccine rollout. Read on to find out why some CVS and Walgreens shoppers have found the process "frustrating."
Updated COVID vaccines were just released.
We've come a long way since the start of the pandemic in 2020. On Sept. 11, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized two new COVID vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer that have been "formulated to more closely target currently circulating variants." The very next day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also gave the updated vaccines their sign of approval, recommending that everyone six months and older get the new shots to protect against COVID this fall and winter.
"Vaccination remains critical to public health and continued protection against serious consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death," Peter Marks, MD, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. "The public can be assured that these updated vaccines have met the agency's rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. We very much encourage those who are eligible to consider getting vaccinated."
CVS and Walgreens have already started offering appointments for the shots.
Not long after the green light was given from both the CDC and the FDA, two major drugstore companies announced that the updated COVID vaccines were already available at retail locations. "Pharmacies will begin receiving the new vaccine today and will continue to receive inventory on a rolling basis throughout the week," CVS announced in a Sept. 13 press release. "All CVS Pharmacy locations are expected to have the vaccination in stock by early next week."
Appointments and walk-ins would start to be accepted as soon as "individual locations receive the vaccines," according to the CVS release. Walgreens, on the other hand, announced that it was already "offering updated COVID-19 vaccine appointments" one day earlier, in a Sept. 12 press release.
"With the FDA and the CDC authorization for the new vaccines targeting newer coronavirus variants, Walgreens stands ready to provide critical access to COVID-19 vaccines for all eligible individuals," the company stated in its release. "Individuals will be able to schedule appointments immediately, with available appointments starting nationwide on Monday, Sept. 18. Earlier appointments may be added on a rolling basis as stores receive vaccines this week."
But now shoppers are slamming the drugstores for a "frustrating" vaccine rollout.
Despite the quick announcements from CVS and Walgreens, some customers seeking the vaccine from either company have encountered availability issues. "Thought I was in the clear for my COVID vaccine today but it turns out CVS just waited 45 minutes before the appointment to cancel it," one X user posted on Sept. 23. Another wrote on Sept. 21, "Ugh have had CVS cancel my vax appt TWICE already bc they don't have COVID shot available yet. This is ridiculous."
Walgreens has also been canceling scheduled appointments, according to customers. "Anyone having trouble getting the COVID vaccine? I scheduled at Walgreens for yesterday and it was cancelled. Rescheduled for today, cancelled again," one person wrote in a Sept. 24 post on X. Another person posted on Sept. 23, "So exciting to schedule an appointment for the new COVID vax only for Walgreens to cancel less than an hour before. I assume they ran out since I've heard of this happening."
These cancellations are causing major stress for some, including Karen Ramos, an insurance underwriter from Temecula, California. Ramos told the AP that she had made an appointment for a new COVID vaccine at her local CVS as soon as she heard they had been approved because she is leaving for a Caribbean cruise on Oct. 1. A day before her appointment, she got a text that it was cancelled because the shot wasn't available yet, and then she set up a another appointment, which was also cancelled "due to unforeseen circumstances," according to the news outlet.
"It was frustrating, because I was excited to get it two weeks in advance [of the cruise], and then having to scramble to reschedule," Ramos said.
CVS and Walgreens confirmed they are dealing with delays.
Best Life has reached out to CVS and Walgreens about the cancellations, and we will update this story with their responses. But both pharmacies have admitted that there have been some bumps in the road with the new rollout. CVS spokesperson Matt Blanchette told the AP that certain appointments are being cancelled because there are some insurers who are still in the process of updating their billing systems to cover the new shots. Meanwhile, others have been cancelled due to supply delays.
Walgreens also confirmed that delivery delays to some stores across the country has led to cancelled appointments. "We are aware of some locations where appointments had to be rescheduled due to delays in supply," the company said in a statement to CBS News, noting that it has paused online scheduling for affected stores. "We apologize for any inconvenience caused to customers who had vaccination appointments scheduled."
But representatives from both Moderna and Prizer told the AP that they aren't dealing with any supply issues on their end for their updated shots. A Pfizer spokesperson said the company is not experiencing any shortages and has "shipped and delivered several million doses of its 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine." Meanwhile, Moderna's Vice President of Communications Chris Ridley told the AP that the company had six million doses of its new shots available as of Sept. 21.
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