“We’ve invested so much into getting this vaccination program off the ground,” Burstein said. “If people don’t fully take advantage of it, that really wastes resources.”
Officials have also stressed to vaccine providers the importance of reminding patients about their second doses via emails, texts or robocalls, similar to the methods many doctors’ offices use to remind patients of upcoming appointments. Both state and county vaccination sites remind patients of their second dose by email 24 hours in advance.
Patients who miss their second dose, for any reason, should call their providers to reschedule it, a health department spokesman said.
“We encourage everyone to get their second dose,” a spokesperson for the WNY Vaccine Hub added in a statement. “A second dose is vitally important to the overall efficacy of the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose vaccines.”
But relief – in the form of a third vaccine – may be on the way. The FDA is currently reviewing a single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson with an eye toward approval in the first weeks of March. A single-dose vaccine would change the game, UB’s Nielsen said, effectively eliminating the problem of both convincing people to come in for a second dose, and reallocating the second doses of those who skip them.
Until then, however, she and other public health experts are urging patients not to let inconveniences, like mild symptoms or a scheduling conflict, prevent them from getting the second shot.