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Retail Pharmacies Gear Up for Latest COVID Boosters

Several grocers taking appointments for Omicron-specific shots
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Meijer pharmacy
Like other retailers, Meijer pharmacists are preparing to administer updated COVID-19 shots as well as other seasonal vaccines.

As a new season arrives, so are updated doses of COVID-19 vaccinations. Following last week’s approval by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), retail pharmacies are receiving shipments of “bivalent” vaccines targeting Omicron subvariants as well as the original strain of the coronavirus.

In addition to pharmacy chains including Walgreens, CVS and Rite-Aid, several grocers announced that they are now taking appointments for the recently-reformulated jab. This week, pharmacists at Michigan-based Meijer suggested that customers schedule booster shots aimed at most commonly circulating BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron strains. All Meijer pharmacies in the Midwest are now offering that vax to eligible consumers.

[Read more: "Retailers Offer Incentives to Customers Getting Flu Shots"]

The pace of our household routines began to increase with the return to school and will extend through the holidays into the new year. Combining your flu and other vaccinations when receiving your updated COVID-19 booster not only saves time but can have real benefit as we look forward to spending time with friends or attending concerts, sporting events and family gatherings,” said Jackie Morse, Meijer’s VP of pharmacy.

Also in the Midwest, Hy-Vee, Inc. announced that it has received a limited supply of the new booster shots and select pharmacy locations are now accepting appointments. The retailer’s trained and licensed health care providers can administer the free-of-charge COVID-19 booster along with a flu vaccine. To make it easier for consumers to track their history, Hy-Vee offers free digital COVID-19 vaccination records.

Stop & Shop is another chain that’s gearing up for fall and winter by offering free COVID-19 boosters and flu shots. The East Coast retailer shared that newly-approved doses from manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are available at 200 pharmacy locations, as well as COVID-19 vaccines from manufacturers Novavax and Johnson & Johnson.

“We are well-stocked and offer same-day immunizations, either with an appointment or on a walk-in basis,” remarked Katie Thornell, director of pharmacy at Stop & Shop. “While prices associated with vaccinations are dependent upon customers’ insurance plans, most flu shots end up being low or no-cost, while COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are provided at no cost.”

Eligibility varies for the refreshed boosters. Individuals aged 12 and over can get a single dose of the updated Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster at least two months after their last COVID-19 vaccine dose, and those 18 and up may receive a single dose of the updated Moderna COVID-19 booster at least two months after their most recent dose. According to the CDC, consumers can choose either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for their booster, regardless of which one they received for their primary inoculations. The updated Pfizer and Moderna boosters are not yet available for children under the age of 12.

Privately owned Meijer, which operates more than 260 supercenters and grocery stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin, is No. 20 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee operates more than 285 retail stores across eight Midwestern states and is No. 30 on The PG 100. Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC runs more than 400 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey and is part of Ahold Delhaize USA, No. 10 on The PG 100. Walgreens, CVS Health and Rite Aid  are Nos. 5, 7 and 21, respectively.

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