Many Philadelphians eagerly sought out the updated COVID booster vaccines after receiving text messages from chain pharmacies like CVS, advertising the shots. However, some individuals experienced delays and had their appointments rescheduled due to supply shortages. Ethan Calof, who had scheduled an appointment for September 16th, arrived at a CVS in Philadelphia to find that the vaccines had not yet arrived. Calof ended up receiving only their flu shot. Similar experiences were reported at other chain pharmacy locations in the area.
The updated COVID booster vaccines, approved by federal authorities, are designed to protect against the newer variant XBB.1.5, which is a variant of the omicron strain that caused widespread illness last year. Early testing has shown that the vaccines are also effective against other variants circulating in the United States.
CVS and Walgreens, the major chain pharmacies in the area, acknowledged supply delays at some locations, but assured that most appointments were honored. Both pharmacies said they would offer more appointments as soon as they received shipments of the vaccine.
Rite Aid, another major chain pharmacy, stated that vaccines would not be available until Friday. They have been scheduling appointments based on when stores are expected to have vaccines in stock, to minimize the need for rescheduling.
Insurance coverage has also been an issue for some individuals. While COVID vaccines were made available for free during the public health emergency, some insurance companies have not updated their billing codes to accommodate the new vaccine. As a result, some patients who secured early appointments were told they had to pay out of pocket, in some cases up to $190.
These insurance coverage issues are expected to be resolved in the coming weeks, according to Robert Field, a professor of law and health management and policy at Drexel University. Field advised individuals to give it a few weeks, as companies and distributors need time to adapt.
Despite these challenges, some Philadelphians have successfully received their updated booster shots without any issues. Demand for the new vaccines is uncertain at this time, but a significant number of registered voters in the U.S. have expressed their intention to get a booster shot this fall.
– [The Philadelphia Inquirer](https://www.inquirer.com/news/covid-vaccine-delays-cvs-walgreens-rite-aid-20210920.html)