Millions of Americans are skipping their second vaccine doses, CDC says

Cancellation of appointments, feeling as if they have enough protection, and fear of side effects are some reasons behind people skipping second doses

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Sunday 25 April 2021 18:19
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Related video: Pfizer CEO Says 3rd Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine Is ‘Likely’ Needed

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More than five million Americans who received their first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines have skipped their second doses.

The nearly eight per cent who didn’t return for their booster shot is more than double the rate of those who skipped their second shot in the first few weeks of the vaccination effort, according to figures from the CDC.

Some of those who didn’t return for their second shots said they were wary of the possible side effects, which sometimes causes people to experience symptoms similar to the flu. Others claimed they felt they had enough protection with just one shot, The New York Times reported. 

Another issue that has cropped up is the cancellation of second dose appointments because of a lack of supply or because vaccine providers didn’t have the right brand in stock.

One of the biggest providers of vaccinations, Walgreens, sent some people to pharmacy locations that only had the other vaccine to give out than the one the individuals had received.

The figures from the CDC goes through 9 April and covers those who got a first shot of the Moderna vaccine by 7 March and those who got their first those of the Pfizer vaccine by 14 March.

It was expected that as the number of vaccinated people rose, the number of people skipping their second dose would also climb, but the ballooning figures are still deeply troubling to some officials.

Health officials in Illinois and Arkansas have told workers to call, text or send letters to people to remind them to come back for a second shot. Around 11 per cent of those who qualify for a second dose in Arkansas have neglected to get it.

Pennsylvania is working to make sure college students can get their second shot after leaving campus for the summer, instructing providers to give second doses to students who received their first dose at a different location. South Carolina earmarked thousands of shot for those whose second doses have been delayed or are overdue.

But 92 per cent of people returning for their second doses is strong compared to other vaccination efforts in history. Around three quarters come back for their second dose of the vaccine protecting against shingles.

Those who skip out on their second jab risk having a weaker immune response and the possibility of being more vulnerable to variants of the coronavirus.

While one shot provides some protection, it’s unknown how long that immunity will last.

Some who skipped their initial appointment for their second dose go looking for another jab sometime later. According to the CDC, the data on the efficiency of shots dispersed more than six weeks is limited, but countries such as Canada and the UK are administering shots with as much as three or four months in between.

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