In a conference call, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has asked pharmacists to reinforce the message that immunocompromised people are now eligible for the fourth dose of COVID vaccines, according to Kaiser Health News (KHN).

The call came a day after KHN reported that pharmacists unfamiliar with the latest CDC guidance were turning people with comprised or weakened immune systems away.

Ron Klain, White House Chief of Staff under President Joe Biden, tweeted Wednesday that “immune-compromised people should get the shots they need,” adding that the CDC “is going to send stronger messages to pharmacies to make sure this happens.”

Pharmacists across the nation joined the call that took place Wednesday, a few hours after Klain’s tweet.

Mitchel Rothholz, Chief of Staff at American Pharmacists Association, who joined the conference call, said the CDC “reiterated the recommendations, running through case examples.”

He said he “asked for a prepared document … that clearly laid out the recommendations … so we can clearly and consistently communicate the message. They said they would but don’t know how long that will take.”

The CDC has recommended an additional shot (fourth dose) for the 7 million Americans whose weak immune systems make them more vulnerable to COVID infection, hospitalization, and death.

Immunocompromised patients include those with medical conditions that affect their immune response to infection, such as people with cancer or autoimmune diseases, and organ transplant recipients.

For individuals aged 5 and above, the CDC recommends a primary vaccine series of two doses of mRNA-based vaccine. They may also receive the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which the CDC said could be safer for those who have had a severe allergic reaction to mRNA vaccines.

The CDC first recommended the fourth shot for immunocompromised people in October 2021.

Kristen Nordlund, Health Communication Specialist at CDC, said the agency has been working to educate pharmacists and other medical providers since October. The CDC’s new guidance to pharmacists has noted that patients do not need to provide proof that they are immunocompromised.

Before the publication of KHN’s first story, Walgreens said in a statement that it continuously updates its pharmacy employees on new vaccine guidance.

Some experts said the agency should have done a better job of advertising its recommendation on booster shots for immunocompromised people.

Dr. Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Translational Institute said the conference call with pharmacists “should have been done many weeks ago. I’m glad that the White House team is finally pushing forward on this.”

Dr. Ameet Kini of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine said he hopes the large pharmacy chains that have been turning people away will issue news releases and update their websites “explicitly stating that they are offering fourth doses” to immunocompromised people. He also said that pharmacies must update their patient portals and provide “clear guidance for their pharmacists.”