The Slatest

Millions Appear to Be Skipping Second COVID-19 Vaccine Shot in the U.S.

Pharmacist Kathie McDonough reconstitutes the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine as she fills syringes with the vaccine for the incoming public at the UMass Memorial Health Care Covid-19 Vaccination Center in the Mercantile Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on April 22, 2021.
Pharmacist Kathie McDonough reconstitutes the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine as she fills syringes with the vaccine for the incoming public at the UMass Memorial Health Care Covid-19 Vaccination Center in the Mercantile Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on April 22, 2021. JOSEPH PREZIOSO/Getty Images

Millions of Americans appear to think that one was enough. More than five million people, accounting for almost 8 percent of those who got a Pfizer or Moderna shot in the United States, have not gone in for their second dose, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, reports the New York Times. That is almost double the rate of of people who appeared to miss the second dose through mid-February. The number shows how health authorities don’t just have to work to convince those who refuse to get vaccinated in the first place, they also need to work to make sure people go in for their second shot.

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Reasons for missing the second shot vary. Some didn’t want to risk the side effects and others said they thought one shot gave them enough of a protection against COVID-19. It’s likely that some, though, didn’t make the decision but just faced too many hurdles to get the second dose and decided to simply give up in frustration. Some vaccine providers canceled appointments because they didn’t have enough supply or had received a different brand of vaccine. It’s likely that when faced with this obstacle, some did not go through the trouble of finding another provider.

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Some European countries have followed a strategy of focusing on getting one dose to as many people as possible and worry less about the second dose. And some U.S. experts had been pushing for a similar strategy earlier in the vaccination campaign, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, has long disagreed. Even though studies have shown there is a high level of protection after one dose, it isn’t clear how long it lasts and it may also not provide as much protection against variants of the virus. Despite the concern, the Times does point out that the rate of follow through on the second dose is still high by historical standards. And it isn’t something unique to the United States either. In Brazil, 1.5 million people appear to have skipped their second dose, which could put the country’s vaccination program at risk, according to Reuters.

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