CareWell Urgent Care, which abruptly canceled hundreds of second-shot vaccine appointments set for this week, said Tuesday that it plans to reschedule residents anxious for COVID-19 injections at its 16 clinics in Massachusetts.
The Quincy company wouldn’t say how many appointments it was forced to scrap because the state had cut off its vaccine supply. But it said new shipments will enable it to reschedule those appointments over the next three weeks and provide second doses, as initially planned.
CareWell has administered about 7,200 first doses at its clinics in the state. Late last week, its representatives began calling people scheduled to receive second doses for the two-shot vaccine regimen to tell them they should look elsewhere for the second shots.
The cancellations, most with only a few days’ notice, touched off panic among people fearing they would miss the prescribed window for receiving the second dose of the Moderna vaccine — seen as key to conferring full immunity from the potentially deadly coronavirus.
Even those who’d received first shots but hadn’t had their second shots canceled began contacting CareWell and trying to reach state officials for reassurance. While a number of independent health experts say the first dose alone confers some immunity and it’s possible to delay the booster shot beyond the prescribed 28 days without harm, US health officials call for sticking to the FDA-authorized timeline.
CareWell was told to expect about 3,000 vaccine doses next Monday and a second shipment a week later, the company said Tuesday. That will enable CareWell to resume administering second doses beginning March 9.
“We are now actively working to reschedule appointments for those patients who missed appointments and will adjust our staffing to accomplish this in a fair and timely manner,” chief executive Shaun Ginter said in a statement.
The statement said CareWell wants “to reassure patients that this short delay in receiving a second vaccination will not adversely impact the efficacy of the vaccine. We understand the anxiety that vaccine delays may have caused some patients and their families.”
Last week, after the company encouraged residents to sign up for second doses through the state’s website, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts COVID-19 Response Command Center said the Baker administration was committed to getting second doses to those who had received first doses.
In a statement Wednesday, the spokeswoman reiterated that commitment: “The Command Center has made clear that all providers will receive their second doses and appointments should be managed to avoid cancellations.”
The statement also said Department of Public Health officials have been in touch with CareWell about supply. “Their second doses have been ordered and should be delivered for second dose clinics next week,” it said.
It isn’t clear why the state curtailed shipments to CareWell. At a legislative hearing last week, officials, without citing any company specifically, complained that some urgent-care providers had flouted Massachusetts rules by not properly logging vaccination data in a computer system and offering shots to residents who were not eligible.