By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Ralphs Pharmacy has postponed upcoming COVID-19 vaccine appointments at its Los Angeles County pharmacies after the Department of Public Health took back thousands of doses intended to go to the grocery store chain.

“When you first get an appointment, I’ve heard this from several people, you feel like you’re winning the lottery,” Cathy Mueller said.

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She said she felt very lucky when she secured an appointment at Ralphs for herself and her 81-year-old husband to get their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“So I thought we were covered, that we had our second one scheduled,” she said. “But then I got the email and phone call yesterday.”

That email reads:

“At the direct request of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH) has recovered 10,000 doses from Ralphs previously intended for upcoming scheduled vaccination appointments. These doses will be used to support the county’s Vaccination Mega-PODs.”

It goes on to say that existing appointments would be delayed for up to four weeks or more.

A spokesperson for Ralphs said the company was only postponing — not canceling — first dose appointments and that if someone already had their first dose at one of its pharmacies, Ralphs would call them to schedule their second dose.

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But, the spokesperson said, the rescheduled appointment might be outside the 28-day window recommended by Moderna and, instead, within the 6-week window the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says is acceptable for full immunity.

But Jane Abrams, who along with her husband has received her first dose, said she was worried that Ralphs would run out of doses for those who need the second shot.

“It’s just chaotic,” she said. “And it’s very frustrating, stressful.”

The county said it pulled the 10,000 doses because Ralphs had not used more than 65% of its supply each week.

“I want to underscore that we are prioritizing second doses,” Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer for Public Health, said. “We will be providing Ralph’s and others with adequate supply”

Ralphs said that its pharmacies were provided with more doses than needed, which is why they hadn’t reached the 65% threshold, and that those with appointments would be contacted by the pharmacy to reschedule.

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“At Ralphs we’ve been prepared and ready to play an active role in helping distribute the vaccine in collaboration with public health officials and community partners and our goal all along has been to assist Southern Californians with this life saving vaccine,” the retail chain said in a statement. “After receiving our initial allotment from Los Angeles County on January 13, above and beyond our initial request of doses, we’ve accounted for more than 25,000 vaccinations in that short timeframe. We are grateful we can be part of the COVID-19 solution.”