About 1% of people are not showing up at all, but health officials say hundreds more are showing up on the wrong day, creating an issue with supply.
By Liam Collins | March 10, 2021 at 4:58 AM EST – Updated March 10 at 4:58 AM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) -JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Onslow County is running into a second-dose no-show issue.
Only about 1% of people have not shown up for their second doses, health officials say largely because of the expansion of vaccine providers, but they say hundreds more are rescheduling at the last minute or showing up on the wrong day, creating a headache of planning.
“It’s allowed, however I don’t think it’s recommended,” said Victoria Reyes, a spokesperson for the health department. “If you’re going somewhere else, you might be taking a second dose from another person.”
It can create a domino effect for weeks. Either vaccines have to be administered to people without appointments, or thrown away. Onslow County has not yet had to throw away any doses of the vaccine, Reyes said, but accommodating people given intended second doses as their first can become difficult to manage.
“We’re given a specific amount of doses for the first dosing and the equivalent amount for that second dosing,” said Dr. Arin Piramzadian, Chief Medical Officer at StarMed. “So, if you don’t show up, now we have all of this vaccine that was supposed to go to you, and now we don’t know what to do with it. Because we’re afraid to give that away to first dosing people, because we don’t have anything set up to see that person again in four weeks.”
It’s an issue that largely falls back on the provider, not the patient.
The Pfizer vaccine is only about 50% effective with one dose, but more than 95% effective with a second dose three weeks later. Moderna’s vaccine provides about 80% protection in a single dose, but also more than 95% protection in a second dose four weeks later.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends a person wait no more than six weeks after a first shot to get a second one, since that’s how the vaccines were studied.
But there’s no data to suggest that a second dose not taken at the recommended interval, or taken more than six weeks after the first shot, makes it any less effective.
“Eventually, when the inventory of the vaccines are coming in as frequently and we’re getting enough, we may have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to either rescheduling and the guarantee that you will have a second dose when you are ready and able to come in for that,” said Reyes.
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