(Reuters) – Drugstore chains Walgreens Boots Alliance and Rite Aid said on Wednesday they would start offering second booster doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines after the shots were cleared in the United States.
U.S. health officials on Tuesday authorized second booster shots of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines for people aged 50 and older, citing data showing waning immunity and the risks posed by Omicron variants of the virus.
The BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron has triggered a surge in infections in many countries across Europe and Asia, and raised concerns over a potential new wave in the United States.
More than half of the COVID-19 cases in the United States are now caused by the BA.2 sub-variant, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also authorized a second booster dose of the vaccines for younger people with compromised immune systems. It cleared Pfizer and partner BioNTech’s booster shot for those aged 12 and older and Moderna’s shot for people 18 and older.
Rite Aid said eligible customers may walk in to a store immediately or schedule an appointment online from Wednesday.
Walgreens said people can schedule an appointment to receive the second shot starting on Friday, with walk-in appointments available from Wednesday through Friday, depending on store capacity.
Rival CVS Health is preparing to administer the second boosters, the company said in an emailed statement to Reuters on Wednesday.
Eligible patients can soon schedule an additional dose four months after their initial booster dose, the company said, adding that same-day or walk-in appointments could be possible but are subject to local demand.
(Reporting by Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)