Statement on COVID-19 Supply Issues - February 20th, 2021
We realize how important it is for you to get your fist or second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. In the past 72 hours, we were made of aware of supply issues related to the Moderna product and have been working non-stop with the State and other rescources to rectify this situation. Up until now, we have not needed to cancel any appointment because we have been able to receive the product and maintain a consistent supply. This is no longer the case. It's a perfect storm of what can go wrong. Here's a brief bullet point list:
1 - Weather - Weather in Texas and other parts of the county have severely impacted the supply chain of Moderna. The product goes from the Distributor to the Wholesaler and then to the Provider (us). We have not received our order from last week (due February 15th) as of today. Weather is a major factor in this supply shortage.
2 - State Reporting Issues - Providers ordered second doses and dispensed them as first doses. Even though they are the same product, the State's orders for the second doses were far greater then anticipated and cannot fill the bulk of the orders on time. Because of this , the State has changed their policy to provide a second dose between 28-42 days (within CDC guidelines).
3 - Supply. There is simply not enough supply to meet the demand. This is true all over the world and especially in PA.
OUR PLAN MOVING FORWARD
1 - No new appointments will open up until we are assured of appropriate allocation and that we have taken care of any current patient with a confirmed appointment or second dose. The last thing we ever wanted to do was to have to cancel an appointment.
2 - If any appointments need to be cancelled, we will reach out to you directly. While we understand how upsetting this is, if there is anything we could do, we have tried to do so. We are in talks to acquire the Pfizer Vaccine which will greatly help with our first dose inventory. If you have an appointment, you will get prioritized over anyone without an appointment.
3- Our priority moving forward is to get our second dose patients (we administered first dose) in for their second shot between day 28 - 42. We are working nonstop to try and administer you first shot at day 28, which was written on your card and discussed during your vaccine appointment. If that date needs to change, we will reach out and do our best to accommodate. Anyone with a scheduled appointment (first or second dose) will be the next priority. And after that, we will open up our booking portal for new appointments.
4 - We are working feverishly to get more vaccine in stock as soon as possible. We can now store the Pfizer product, so we are working with State to approve our orders. We are on a call almost every day with the State and will continue working non-stop until we can take care of our patients with appointments and second doses.
We understand your fustration. We will do our best to get the product in and into your Arm ASAP. Email is the quickest way to reach us at with any additional questions.
Statement on COVID-19 Vaccine Booking at Eric’s RX Shoppe
On Sunday, February 14, 2021 at 8:30 AM, we released over 400 first dose appointments for the remainder of February. All appointments were booked within the first 15-20 seconds of being released. This left the bulk of you without an appointment and frustrated with the process. Since 8:30 AM on February 14th, we have received thousands of emails asking if their appointment went through, frustrated and angry with the process, and asking how/when you can book an appointment. Our hope is this statement provides some background about our process and a better understanding of what we are/have been doing to provide as many of these lifesaving vaccines as possible.
To start off: Numbers.
This is a complex process to understand but we are a family business as such will do best to explain in so many words. We monitor our website traffic and at 8:30 AM, there was over 15k users on the website. Assuming of the 15k, everyone wanted to book only one appointment (low estimate), that means you had 2.67% of securing an appointment. We are only one vaccine provider in the State of PA. As much as we would love nothing more than to vaccinate everyone who needs one, it’s just not that simple or possible due to supply constraints and time limitations. As most have done since the Pandemic began, we have adapted our business to operate in a safe manner along with following state guidelines. As such we had to make many changes along with sacrifices to our normal business practices in order to best serve our customers. We have been doing vaccines for many years, but not in this large of a scale. Add in social distancing guidelines for everyone’s safety & only so many can be done. Each day we work on ways to better serve everyone. We have hired many additional staff members since we started vaccinating. Our staff has been working overtime and non-stop to operate our everyday pharmacy along with preparing for each vaccine administration. We fully see the scope of your frustrations and wanted to share some insight from our perspective. Nothing means more to us than maintaining our patient’s happiness, and we are working every day to better serve you and add more appointments. We can assure you our staff has and will continue to go above and beyond to make this all possible. That being said: 95% of our staff is not directly involved on the website or appointment booking process and are unable to provide any other information other than what’s publicly available on our site.
Online website booking continues to be easiest and fairest way to manage appointments. We fully understand this may not be ideal for everyone, especially the elderly. With Governor Wolf’s new order, we will have a limited number of appointments each week that will be able to be booked over the phone. We will announce these details in next few days. Everything you see on our website has been developed in the last 8 weeks since we started vaccinating. We have beta-tested many companies, and our current booking site (Calendly) has been the most reliable. Appointments booked on the website are only confirmed if you receive a confirmation email from Calendly with your name and appointment time. If you tried to book a time and the site froze up or were unable to submit, it simply means someone else confirmed the appointment time before you. Calendly (our booking process) worked how it was designed to work; it unfortunately can’t accommodate every appointment request. We also only book appointments on average 10 days in advance and only make these appointments available once we know we will have adequate supply. We try to operate in an honest and upfront approach. Additionally, we have been vaccinating for 7+ weeks and proud to say that each week we have done more as well as improved our processes since the beginning and will continue make changes for the better.
Our role/plan going into this:
When we decided to pursue over 6 months ago, it was with the intention to help our community. However, this was new to us along with everyone and never anticipated so many people would be eligible for the vaccine before there was adequate supply and enough providers. We know we are only a small part of the solution and are in full agreement there needs to be a better way for everyone who needs vaccine to get it. We unfortunately don’t have the answer to how this is possible or what should/shouldn’t happen as so much will remain out of our control. The only thing we can continue to do is our goal from the beginning. Helping our community by vaccinating as many people as we can in a safe & efficient manner. Our Federal Government, the PA DOH, Montgomery County DOH, and all other vaccine providers are in a very tough position. Our hope is that as time goes on, each entity can work together to figure out a way to mass vaccinate and provide a vaccine to every eligible person who wants one. Since PA changed 1A to include those 65+ and with certain disease states, we cannot prioritize a group in 1A over another. As long as you meet the Phase 1A qualification, you would have the same chance of booking an appointment at Eric’s RX Shoppe as anyone else in Phase 1A.
To close this off we realize this has been an imperfect process. We are small independent pharmacy that has been completely inundated with the demand for this vaccine. We will continue to better this process and want to reiterate how much we appreciate and thank our everyone’s patience and understanding as we continue to move forward. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to serve you in the future. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email us at email@example.com. At the moment it is not possible to respond to every email but will do our best to get back to you. This message was to let you know we hear and understand your frustrations. For those that feel overlooked or haven’t been able to book an appointment, we are working around the clock to meet your needs from behind the scenes. Thank you for taking the time to read this and hope this helps shed some light what’s been going on and our future plans.