Most people who have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna are receiving the second dose on time, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
During the first two months of the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination program, the CDC found that 95 percent of people had completed both two-dose vaccinations within the recommended time period.
However, the CDC said the groups prioritized to receive a shot during this period, such as health care workers and long-term care residents, had better access to a second dose because they were more likely to have been vaccinated at their work or residence.
“As priority groups broaden, adherence to the recommended dosing interval might decrease,” the agency said.
The researchers found that among those where enough time had gone by to receive a second dose, 88 percent of people had completed their second dose, 8.6 percent had not yet but still had enough time to receive their second dose and 3.4 percent had missed the second dose completely — meaning at least 42 days had gone by since receiving their first dose.
Among those who had received their second dose, the CDC found 95 percent got it within the recommended time period.
The CDC recommends 21 days between doses for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 28 days between doses for Moderna’s. But the agency has said if needed, there can be up to 42 days between doses.
To improve accessibility to and acceptance of second doses, the CDC recommended public health officials work to better understand whether missed doses or delays are caused by challenges to vaccine access or because of other challenges related to vaccine confidence or acceptance.
During a press briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky acknowledged the difficulty some people may have in getting their second dose on time and said the agency is working on solutions.
“Some strategies include working with trusted messengers and communities to spread science based messages on the importance of getting fully vaccinated, partnering with jurisdictions and vaccination providers to schedule both vaccination appointments upfront or schedule the second appointment when you get the first shot, and having systems in place to send appointment reminders to patients,” Walensky said.
She said missed second doses should be repurposed as first doses “to avoid vaccine wastage.”
Walensky also encouraged the public to help out.
“This can be as simple as helping family members and other loved ones with scheduling appointments, reminding them about their appointments and driving or accompanying them to their appointments,” Walensky said. “These small acts will go a long way toward protecting health and helping to end the pandemic.”