Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the vaccine: In search of Moderna, Chapter 2

Filed Under: Costs, Patients

I went looking for a Moderna booster on Saturday, Oct. 23, the day after the Centers for Disease Control announced that they were available and I was eligible, as an over-65 person with the initial Moderna series completed in January and February of this year.

I called Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., part of the New York City Health + Hospitals empire, where I got my first two Moderna on Jan. 16 and Feb. 17. I asked for a Moderna booster, and they said I could just walk in.

I walked in to Building 4, the vaccine center — but there were no Moderna boosters. The very nice women working there said I could have a Pfizer booster, or a Moderna second or first shot, but no Moderna booster.

They told me the C.D.C. had not authorized the Moderna booster. Of course, they were wrong. But they were so certain they were correct, that it made me question what I knew definitively. If health care workers aren’t up to date on this, then … gosh.

I called back, and this time the operator said Jacobi has no Moderna, only Pfizer.

This is not the first report we have had of people having trouble getting a Moderna booster. This is our previous story on this topic.

The Jacobi workers did say I could get a Pfizer booster and that would be completely effective — which is pretty much what the C.D.C. said Friday in recommending a “mix and match” strategy. I told them I preferred Moderna, and they seemed puzzled.

I’m not alone: On Twitter, one woman wrote “I can’t find the Moderna booster yet. Most of my local places only have Pfizer.” Another wrote: “Anyone know how to get a Moderna booster? I’m keen to bump up my J&J immunity levels, but can’t seem to find one anywhere.”

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

It’s possible that people seeking Moderna boosters will find it challenging, since many of the big public sites that distributed vaccines earlier this year have closed.

I expected that Jacobi Medical Center would carry Moderna because Jacobi is so big. Not so.

What can you do? You can go to vaccines.gov and search for your preferred vaccine. I did search for Moderna in Jacobi’s zip code, and Jacobi is not listed. What is listed: Rite-Aid, Walgreens, Metro Urgicare and Pilgrim Pharmacy.

Within one mile of my 10803 zip code in Pelham, N.Y., the vaccines.gov site has only one New Rochelle location, Clark Medical Care, with a note to check appointment availability but that the Moderna vaccine is definitely in stock. Searching on Pfizer, there is one location, in Mount Vernon at a CVS. For Johnson and Johnson, again Clark Medical and no others.

Within 5 miles of my zip code, Montefiore New Rochelle is listed as having Moderna, but no drop-ins are accepted, according to the website. When I called the appointment number, 914-365-3805 on a Saturday, no one answered and I left a voicemail.

I then called the CVS in my town, which didn’t come up on the one-mile search of my 10803 zip code, but did on the 5-mile search; the vaccines.gov site said they had Moderna appointments, but the CVS phone line booted me to CVS national. The representative there said Moderna was not yet available. When would it be available? “Probably tomorrow,” he said.

As I was on hold, I went to the CVS scheduling page, which offered me an opportunity to schedule a Moderna shot — but then told me no appointments were available.

(The vaccine site has terrible zip radius search. Be forewarned.)