Recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that more than five million people, or nearly 8% of those who got a first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, have missed their second doses. This is dangerous because receiving only one dose of the vaccine leaves you at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 and its variants.
Why are people missing their second dose?
There are many reasons why people may postpone or skip the second dose. For example, in recent interviews, some people said they were afraid of the side effects. Others said they felt that they were protected with a single shot. Some vaccine providers have canceled second-dose appointments because they ran out of vaccine supply. Also, many have had trouble with online systems to schedule their second dose.
What can we do?
Some states are using specific strategies to make sure more people get their second dose. In Arkansas and Illinois, health officials created teams to call, text or send letters to people to remind them to get their second shots. In Pennsylvania, they are focusing on making sure that college students get their second shot after they leave campus for the summer.
Why is it important to get the second dose?
We know that a single shot triggers a weaker immune response. This may leave people more at risk to the dangerous COVID-19 variants. Although a single dose gives some protection against COVID-19, it is still not clear how long that protection will last. Receiving only one dose does not provide you with full protection and effectiveness of the vaccine. Overall, research shows the importance of getting the full two doses to protect yourself from COVID-19. It is okay to delay your second dose for a few days or even a few weeks, but aim to get it within six weeks of your first dose.