But health experts say the most surprising thing is how low that number is, and that it points to the need to educate people about the importance of that second shot to their own protection and that of others in a pandemic – and to let them. know. it’s not too late to get it.
Two of the vaccines used in the United States – the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines – require people to be given a second dose to get the maximum protection the vaccines can provide.
“Of course I’m concerned about any individual not coming back for a second admission, but I actually thought there would be more people who wouldn’t come back,” says Dr. Leana Wen, medical analyst at CNN. “Based on what we know about other vaccines, there is a drop-off for a number of reasons.”
The CDC said the number of people missing doses – 5 million – may not be exact. If a person received the two doses from different reporting agencies – for example, first from a state-run clinic and then from a local health clinic – the two doses may not have been linked by databases, a CDC spokeswoman said.
However, the reasons behind the delayed or missed second doses require further analysis, the spokesperson said, and officials should try to understand whether this is due to access or hesitation with the vaccine.
Reasons and excuses people give for skipping the second dose
Several people have reported getting their second admission in a different location from their first, and administrators of the first location have contacted them repeatedly about making an appointment for a second admission, which had already been administered elsewhere.
The second injection for the Pfizer vaccine should be given 21 days after the first. For the Moderna, the second dose is 28 days later.
When Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, got his second chance, “It was one day that was terribly difficult, and I tried to move it. They’re like, you have to show up on this day. this time, ”he said.
“I feel like a lot of this is hard to get. People miss appointments, people miss doctor’s appointments,” Jha said at a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.
“I don’t think it’s people who hesitate or don’t want to get it,” Jha said. “It’s hard to get this stuff, and two shots in a row.”
One solution: make it easier to get that second shot
“I think we really need to work on making vaccination an easy and easy choice,” said Wen. “Anything we can do to get vaccines to doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, schools, wherever people are, is really important.”
Within St. Luke’s University Hospital Network in Pennsylvania, the success rate in fully vaccinating humans is 99%, said Dr. Jeffrey Jahre, an infectious disease expert there, in part because the network made it easy to get the second appointment, assign it when the first shot was fired.
The network then followed up with multiple reminders of the appointment – five days off, three days off, and then the day before – and those who couldn’t keep that appointment were “given an easy method to change it,” Jahre said.
According to data from the CDC, more than 43% of the U.S. population has had at least one injection of a vaccine and 30% has been fully vaccinated. And in many places in the country, it is getting easier to get vaccinated as supply increases and demand decreases.
A perhaps more difficult solution: counteract misconceptions
But another reason people skip the second dose is not understanding its importance or being misinformed. And that may be more difficult to solve.
Some people skip the second shot because they think the first gives them enough protection, Wen said.
Some people say, “Oh, I’m fine. I’m not at risk that much, so I only need one vaccine,” said Wen. And then some people think that one vaccine will somehow give them enough protection. The second is just for the record. That is not true.’
“I don’t want them to walk around thinking that they have immunity to Covid-19 when they actually don’t, because they only got one dose,” said Wen.
The authors analyzed the results of a survey of 1,027 American adults conducted February 11-15 through a panel compiled by the National Opinion Research Center.
About 20% of those surveyed believed that the vaccines provided strong protection to recipients after the first dose, and an additional 36% were uncertain.
Only 44% of vaccinated people reported that the vaccines provided “strong protection” one to two weeks after the second dose, as stated in the CDC guidelines.
“Despite current efforts, many Americans, including many of those who have already received a first vaccination dose, remain confused about the timing of protection and the need for a second dose,” the authors wrote.
Earlier this year, there was a public debate among health officials about delaying second doses to focus on building partial immunity for a larger portion of the population before everyone gave the second dose. That debate may play a role in the public’s lack of understanding of the importance of the second dose, the authors said.
One shot is not enough
While there is some protection after the first shot, it’s not clear how long that lasts, and it’s nowhere near what full immunization provides.
“There is a 36-fold difference between being fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci at a press conference Friday.
“I’m worried about it,” said Jahre. “To get sustainability, you need that second dose.”
And to get to where we want to be in terms of herd immunity, “you have to have sustainability, you have to have sustainability. And it’s really important for people to follow that second dose,” Jahre said.
“It’s definitely a problem,” Wen said that the 8% did not receive a second dose. “We need people who are fully vaccinated for the protection of others.”
According to Wen and others, people should also know that if you are among the 8% who have just received one injection of Moderna or Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, it may not be too late to get that second injection.
CNN’s Ryan Prior contributed to this report.