In the Chicago area, for example, pharmacists at two Walgreens locations said the problem was causing headaches. They said that Walgreens’ appointment system was sending each pharmacy anywhere from 10 to 20 customers a week who need a second Pfizer shot, even though both pharmacies stock only the Moderna vaccine.
It is not clear how widespread the Walgreens dose-matching problem has been or how many people have missed their second doses because of it.
Jim Cohn, a spokesman for Walgreens, said that the problem affected “a small percentage” of people who had booked their appointments online and that the company contacted them to reschedule “in alignment with our vaccine availability.” He said that nearly 95 percent of people who got their first shot at Walgreens have also received their second shots from the company.
Walgreens has also come under fire for, until recently, scheduling second doses of the Pfizer vaccine four weeks after the first shot, rather than the three-week gap recommended by the C.D.C. Pharmacists have been besieged by customers complaining, including about their inability to book vaccine appointments online.
In other cases, though, access to vaccines is not the sole barrier; people’s attitudes contribute, too.
Basith Syed, a 24-year-old consultant in Chicago, nabbed a leftover Moderna vaccine at a Walgreens in mid-February. But when the time came for his second shot, he was busy at work and preparing for his wedding. After the first shot, he had spent two days feeling drained. He didn’t want to risk a repeat, and he felt confident that a single dose would protect him.