Walgreens is shifting its Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination scheduling after federal health officials noted the pharmacy chain quietly decided to space doses apart over a longer-than-recommended period, according to a report.
Federal guidelines call for the two-dose series to be administered at least 21 days apart, but Walgreens pushed the spacing to four weeks for easier logistics, the New York Times reports.
Second shots should be given “as close to the recommended interval as possible,” the Centers for Diease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises, though the federal agency says the interval can be pushed up to six weeks apart.
CDC spokeswoman Kate Grusich reportedly said the agency requested Walgreens stop using the extended dosing interval, however.
The company’s chief medical officer, Dr. Kevin Ban, said that Walgreens aligned the four week-dosing intervals with vaccines developed by Moderna, also administered at the pharmacy chain, and Ban said it was “the easiest way to stand up the process based on our capabilities at the time,” the newspaper wrote. The prolonged interval reportedly left some customers confused.
Walgreens has administered over 8 million COVID-19 vaccines, and will reportedly adjust its default scheduling system to the recommended three-week interval later this week.
Fox News has requested comments from the CDC, Pfizer, and Walgreens.
Top officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have previously advised the public to adhere to the authorized dosing and vaccination schedules: two doses 21 days apart for Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and two doses 28 days apart for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. That statement surfaced after reports that the U.S. FDA was in talks with Moderna and Operation Warp Speed officials to consider halving vaccines’ dose volume to speed inoculations and extend the supply.
“At this time, suggesting changes to the FDA-authorized dosing or schedules of these vaccines is premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence,” reads the statement. “Without appropriate data supporting such changes in vaccine administration, we run a significant risk of placing public health at risk, undermining the historic vaccination efforts to protect the population from COVID-19.”