Skipping 2nd COVID shot means less efficacy, length of protection

New data shows an increasing number of Americans are missing their scheduled second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.  This, as the total number of doses administered each week is declining. 

Experts say it’s expected a small percentage of people won’t get their second shot for one reason or another, but with that number growing, they say it’s important that the second dose is easily accessible and that people understand the implications.

Cedarburg resident Marc Willden is among the more than 42% of Wisconsinites who’ve received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

"About three weeks ago, so I’m due for the second one next Monday," said Willden on Monday, April 26.

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COVID-19 vaccine

While Willden said he's excited to complete his vaccine series, new data from the CDC shows 8% of Americans have missed their appointment for the second dose. That’s up from 3.4% in March. 

"It will be a little bit of a relief," said Willden. "It’ll be one of those things I don’t really have to think so much about anymore."

"For some people, it probably just didn’t work out and they just didn’t reschedule it," said Dr. Matt Anderson with UW Health. "For some people, they had side effects and they don’t want to get it again."

Dr. Anderson cautioned that without a second dose, the vaccine is not only less effective but the protection it does provide from the virus likely doesn’t last as long.

"We don’t know if it will be one month, two months, three months," said Dr. Anderson.

State data shows a decline in the total number of doses being administered: 290,000 shots went into arms last week down from nearly 420,000 at the beginning of the month. Jacobi Kock of Sheboygan is like many who are still hesitant about getting vaccinated. 

"I think everybody jumped the gun a little bit," said Kock.

He's instead planning to wait and see before rolling up his sleeve.

"In the future, if the vaccine had a couple years of tried and true results and I felt more comfortable with it, but for the time being, I’m not going to take it," he said.

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The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has not said if vaccine hesitancy or other factors are contributing to that decline in doses administered. 

Dr. Anderson said the data about more people missing their second shot underscores the importance of a  single-dose vaccine like Johnson & Johnson and reminded that those blood clots linked to the J&J shot are extremely rare and the benefits outweigh the risk of the virus. 

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