By Dr. John Wig, Chief Medical Officer, Walmart
For months, Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies nationwide have been administering COVID-19 vaccines as we work to keep our communities safe and healthy. I joined Walmart at the beginning of August because of the tremendous impact the company has on supporting and caring for our communities during the pandemic. I’m proud to support the teams as we’ve expanded our vaccinations to include third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised individuals, along with our low-cost flu shots. We stand ready to administer booster shots this fall once recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the coming weeks.
Third Shot vs. Booster Shot: Which One Is Right for You?
There are two different types of “3rd doses” of the COVID-19 vaccines: an additional vaccine dose and a booster shot. An additional vaccine dose can help increase the immune response in immunocompromised individuals who are less able to fight infections and are more vulnerable to infections like the COVID-19 virus. The Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, which both require two shots, are the only vaccines authorized at this time to be administered as a third dose to people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. A booster shot is a dose of vaccine administered when the initial immune response has begun to fade. This booster shot is what you’re currently hearing about as likely being necessary to prolong the protections and maximize the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines.
As cases of the highly contagious Delta variant and hospitalizations continue to rise, medical experts are recommending booster shots, based on data that shows waning immunity around six to eight months after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. More data is needed on booster shots tied to the J&J vaccine, which is expected in the next few weeks. While Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies are currently administering third doses to immunocompromised individuals, we will only administer booster shots to eligible fully vaccinated Americans once recommendations have been issued by the CDC and FDA.
Focusing on solutions
As we prepare to administer millions of booster shots, we will continue to focus on solutions that make it as easy as possible for our customers to get vaccinated. We have already shown we can make a real difference in our communities through our non-profit, community-based and state and local government partnerships to improve access to the vaccine. We’ve conducted more than 600 community vaccine clinics to date in partnership with local organizations, to help us reach communities and get more shots in arms, especially for those most vulnerable and at risk. Interested customers can find more information by visiting Walmart.com/covidvaccine.
More Americans than ever are getting vaccinated. We continue to see increases in new vaccinations across Walmart stores, and according to the CDC, nearly 203 million people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 171 million are fully vaccinated. Additional vaccinations in the form of a third dose or a booster shot is standard for many other vaccines and can help extend the protections and benefits of the initial vaccination.
Here to Help
Our pharmacies nationwide are here to help, as we have been throughout the pandemic, and we will continue to administer vaccines. Together, we can successfully meet the challenges of the pandemic, but it’s important we don’t let our guard down as we enter this new stage. Please do your part: Get vaccinated, and get your booster shot once you are eligible. I know I and my family will, and I’ll be proudly standing with my Walmart and Sam's Club colleagues as we work to administer vaccines to our communities across the country.
Marilee McInnis 1-800-331-0085