Many Tennesseans are overdue for their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reported.
CDC data from Dec. 14 to Feb. 14 showed 3.2% of Tennessee residents who received their first doses were outside of the “allowable interval” of 42 days without second shots.
“Missing a second dose is not something you want to do if you can avoid it,” Blount Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Harold Naramore said. “Missing a second dose — or choosing to forgo it — means that an individual’s immunity is not going to be as strong as if they come for both shots.”
The first dose does provide a decent amount of immunity against the virus. An article published Feb. 4 by the New England Journal of Medicine stated that one dose of the vaccine is 62% effective at preventing serious illness from COVID.
But that immunity doesn’t last, Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said during a March 31 COVID briefing hosted by the Blount Partnership.
“The reason that the second dose is important is because the second dose allows the duration of the immunity to grow,” she said.
Essentially, people who get the first doses are protected, but that protection likely won’t last as long or be as strong as it would with the second doses, Naramore said.
Most Blount Countians have presented for their second doses, though. Naramore said the hospital has seen “limited numbers” of people opt out or not show up for their second shots.
TDH Regional Public Information Officer Corie Gouge told The Daily Times via email “this is not an issue that we are seeing at Blount Co. Health Department.”
State health department data showed 16.64% of Blount County was fully vaccinated, while 11.18% had received first doses as of April 4.
Many people may not be making an active decision not to show up for a second shot: It could be out of their hands, Naramore said.
“While it’s hard to always know the reason that people don’t come back, I tend to believe that most of it involves the scheduling of the second dose,” he said. “The majority of people, it appears, have not avoided getting the second shot out of fear of developing symptoms.”
Since the vaccine entered Blount County in December, eligible recipients had difficulty scheduling appointments, but those snags have eased, officials said.
Vaccinefinder.org, the nation’s hub of vaccination information, lists 15 Blount County vaccine providers. On March 6, the site listed only five.
“The month of April is going to be a big one in the vaccine world,” Naramore said. “We’re going to see a significant increase in the number of people, nationally and here locally, who move from having one dose to being fully vaccinated.”
Blount Memorial is not listed on vaccinefinder.org but also is administering shots when they’re in stock.
More than half of the locations listed have shots currently available, the website shows. BMH also has available appointments for April 11 and 12.
Tn-vras.powerappsportals.us/vaccine-centers, another vaccine appointment resource, specifically lists the availability of second doses in certain areas.