Salem Kroger apologizes after denying pregnant woman Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Tiffany Del Rio’s appointment was canceled and told the vaccine wasn’t for pregnant women, but Kroger says that was a mistake

A Kroger in our area is apologizing for not giving a pregnant woman a COVID-19 vaccine.

SALEM, Va. – A Kroger in our area is apologizing after turning a pregnant woman away from her COVID-19 vaccine. A company spokeswoman said it was an “honest mistake” based on a local misinterpretation of the guidelines.

Tiffany Del Rio and her husband live in northern Virginia and are expecting their second child. Pregnancy is stressful enough, let alone being pregnant during the pandemic.

“So I was really disappointed that after spending hours on my computer navigating the system to find a vaccine that I find out days before that I’m not going to get it,” Del Rio said.

Using Facebook groups dedicated to crowdsourcing vaccine appointments, Del Rio secured a spot in our neck of the woods at Kroger in Salem’s Lakeside Plaza. She received two confirmations and then two days before her scheduled appointment, the pharmacy called to say her appointment was canceled because she’s pregnant.

“The over-seeing physician for this specific Kroger, I don’t know if it was other ones as well, had made the decision that they would not be vaccinating pregnant women with the Pfizer vaccine,” Del Rio said.

Del Rio told 10 News the staff at the Salem Kroger told her the Pfizer vaccine was not recommended for pregnant women, a claim she believes to be false.

While the CDC is still studying the effects of the Pfizer vaccine on pregnant women, the agency does not say pregnant women should not receive it. Pregnancy is an underlying condition and the CDC said those who are pregnant and eligible to receive the vaccine may choose to be vaccinated. Last month Pfizer told NBC News it was enrolling up to 4,000 pregnant women in clinical trials.

“I have many friends who are pregnant who work on the healthcare front line, so know that many of them have actually received the vaccine,” Del Rio said.

In a statement to 10 News, Kroger said in part “it was an honest mistake due to the misinterpretation of the guidelines” and “the customer who visited our store to get a vaccine should not have been turned away.”

Del Rio said she reached out to Kroger immediately following the incident but did not get a straight answer. Now Kroger tells 10 News they’re offering her another appointment to make it right.

“I mean, ultimately I just want my appointment to get a vaccine and so I hope that Kroger implements policies that adhere to state guidelines and their own guidelines on their form,” Del Rio said.

Kroger encourages everyone to receive whichever vaccine is available to them as soon as they’re eligible.

Read the full Kroger statement below:

We apologize for the frustration and inconvenience this customer experienced at Kroger. This was an honest mistake due to a misinterpretation of the guidelines. That said, the customer who visited our store to get a vaccine should not have been turned away. Our pharmacists who are administering vaccines have been reminded of our current vaccination policies, which include vaccinating women who are pregnant. We’re doing what we can to make it right and we would like to offer this individual a vaccine at a Kroger pharmacy.

We are proud of the more than 665,000 COVID-19 vaccinations our pharmacists have administered to date across the country. Kroger is encouraging everyone to receive whichever vaccine is available to them at the earliest point they become eligible.