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Douglas County works to ensure people show up for second COVID-19 vaccine dose

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 1:21 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As progress is made in getting Americans vaccinated against COVID-19, a nationwide problem is surfacing: Some people are not returning for their second dose.

The Douglas County Health Department is taking steps to ensure that does not happen here.

“You know, we realized that was a big issue in all our community clinics,” DCHD senior epidemiologist Dr. Anne O’Keefe said.

That is why the health department changed their approach.

“We found in working with all of our partners, but the best way to do, to make sure people come back for their second dose is to go ahead and schedule them for an appointment at their first dose appointment,” O’Keefe said.

And it is working.

According to Dr. O’Keefe, less than 1% of people who received their first dose failed to show up for their second countywide. She said she believes prescheduling appointments is the solution — along with email and phone call reminders.

“When you get a shot, we actually have a vaccine that is designated for that second dose,” O’Keefe said.

Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines require you to get that second dose within a certain amount of time, but if you fall outside of that range, it is not the end of the world.

“If you get it up to six months later, it’s still considered... you can still count that as your second dose,” she said. “You don’t have to start the series over.”

But getting the second dose within the recommended timeframe is preferred.

Right now, you aren’t able to choose which vaccine you receive, but O’Keefe said not to focus on the efficacy or dosage numbers between the three.

“Don’t obsess about those numbers. Get the vaccine that you are offered when, when you’re offered it, you know, because there still isn’t enough to offer these choices. That’s the best way to protect yourself and the community,” she said.

Following President Biden’s promise to have enough vaccine doses for all Americans by May, O’Keefe says they’re continuing to work with community partners to make that promise a reality.

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