Don’t skip your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, health experts warn

Health experts say fears of harsh side effects, an inability to take time off of work or incorrectly thinking that a single dose is enough all might be contributing factors to why some are skipping their second dose.                    Credit: Sergio Flores for The Texas Tribune
Health experts say fears of harsh side effects, an inability to take time off of work or incorrectly thinking that a single dose is enough all might be contributing factors to why some are skipping their second dose. Credit: Sergio Flores for The Texas Tribune

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.

On Friday, White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci had a vital message for Americans who have gotten their first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer coronavirus vaccine: Don't skip your second shot.

About 8% of people nationwide who have received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine have not returned for their second dose, Fauci said Friday. That's normal compared to what health experts have seen with other multidose vaccines. But skipping a second dose will not be as effective in preventing the spread and providing the complete protection needed against the virus that has killed more than 576,000 people in the U.S. and more than 49,000 people in Texas.

"Bottom line of my message: Get vaccinated. And if you're having a two-dose regimen, make sure you get that second dose, too," Fauci said.

A lower percentage of people vaccinated in Texas are skipping their second dose relative to the rest of the country. As of April 25, about 5% — or 570,399 — of Texans who had received the first dose were 43 days or more past due for their second dose, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Health experts say fears of side effects, an inability to take time off of work or incorrectly thinking that a single dose is enough all might be contributing factors to why some are skipping their second dose.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 64% effective at preventing hospitalizations in the elderly after the first dose. But they are 94% effective after two doses.

"Everything is showing us that you need two doses to get good protection against the virus," said Dr. John Carlo, CEO of Prism Health North Texas and a member of the state medical association's COVID-19 task force.