I wanted to get the Pfizer vaccine as a supplemental dose to my earlier J&J dose. I scheduled an appointment at a local Walgreens pharmacy. My conversation with the intake clerk or pharmacist, not sure of her role, went something like this:
Me: I’d like to get a covid vaccine, please.
She: Is this your first shot?
She: This is your second Pfizer shot?
She looked over at me and I explained what I recently blogged about, citing the San Francisco news. We both wore masks so I let my eyes do the talking. I tried to convey confusion and could she help? Now, keep in mind, she had my driver’s license in her hand. In hindsight, I’m unsure why I gave that. Massachusetts regulations or guidance or whatnot says that covid vaccines can be administered without ID.
I grasped that she was also confused. She said that I wasn’t the first person in the pharmacy asking for an mRNA vaccine after receiving the J&J one. Visiting the CDC website, and to my bewilderment, she said that I was able to get it. Minutes later, she said the CDC information was about San Francisco, not Boston; and, moreover, my insurance company denied the dose. This part of the conversation perplexed me as I neither gave her my insurance card nor specified the company; and I don’t remember using Walgreens in the past year for drugs, but hey.
So, I couldn’t get the vaccine.
The same day, I read about the first clinical results of a South African research study of nearly 480,000 people. The study indicated that the J&J vaccine offers 91-96% protection from death and 71% protection from hospitalization (specific to the Delta variant, compared to 67% protection from the Beta variant).
This is good news. It’s troubling that other vaccines have higher hospitalization efficacy rates than 71%, but, at this point, I’ll take what I can get.
In the meantime, I’m convinced that the U.S. federal government is frustrated with Americans taking second or third shots on their own; and I’m certain that public health agencies probably want to get in front of the chaos.
According to an August 6 story in the Washington Post, the FDA is reviewing CDC data to support vaccine boosters for immunocompromised adults. This represents about 7 million people. Data collection is also ongoing to determine extra doses for the general population who received Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J; and this rollout is estimated for October.