North Olympic Peninsula public health officials have noticed an increase in people not returning for their second COVID-19 vaccination dose and are urging residents to get fully vaccinated.
Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses to be fully effective, and even doses given after the recommended three to four weeks after the first shot will be beneficial to recipients, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.
“You can get it late,” she said. “It’s always better to get it late than to not get it at all.”
Berry has seen a rise in no-shows for second-dose vaccination appointments and estimated about 20 percent of first-dose recipients are not returning for their second in recent weeks, she said.
In previous phases while vaccinating older populations, the percentage of second-dose no-shows was at about 10 percent, but the increase has been seen in the younger generation not attending their second-dose appointments, Berry said.
“There’s a variety of reasons for that,” she said. “Some folks are already traveling — which is not my favorite reason for people missing their second dose — other times it’s convenience or something else comes up.
“It’s something we see a lot in vaccines. We tend to anticipate up to 20 to 25 percent of people won’t follow through with their series. But I’m hopeful, given our data on the efficacy of one dose, even those who don’t comeback for the second dose are contributing to herd immunity in our community.”
Nationally, it’s estimated that 8 to 10 percent of people are skipping their second shots for a variety of reasons, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.
While one dose does provide some protection against COVID-19, it is lesser than the protection of both doses and may last for a shorter amount of time, Locke said.
Jefferson County has seen an increase in no-shows in second-dose appointments overall, but Locke did not have an estimated percentage of no-shows as of Monday.
Jefferson County officials have been following up with people who missed their second-dose appointments at county-run clinics to reschedule their appointment, or they find out a person received their second dose at another place, like a pharmacy, which makes it more difficult to track, he said.
“We can continue to have the door open for the second dose,” Locke said. “It’s important that people take responsibility to make sure that they get their needed doses.”
Clallam County residents who missed their second-dose appointments are encouraged to contact the Clallam County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 360-417-2430.
Jefferson County residents who missed their second-dose appointment can call the Jefferson EOC at 360-344-9791.
Jefferson Healthcare hasn’t seen a noticeable issue of no-shows for second-dose appointments, but it has seen a dropoff in first-dose appointments, and the first-dose appointments are having a higher no-show rate compared with earlier vaccination efforts, said Amy Yaley, hospital spokesperson.
“The biggest issue I see is just the lack of people scheduling for their first dose,” she said in an email Monday. “I believe people will eventually get vaccinated, but there is not the urgency we witnessed with our older community members.
“This younger group has more factors to consider when they vaccinate; work schedule, caring for children and active lifestyle all play a part if they need to rest for a day or so because of reaction. I believe we will get there; it’s just going to be slower, and if there are other hesitancies, it will take time to change their minds.”
On Monday, Clallam County confirmed five new cases for a total of 136 COVID-19 cases so far this month, about 11.32 percent of the 1,201 cases during the past year, according to county data.
Jefferson County reported two new cases on Monday. It has confirmed 36 cases so far in April, about 9.42 percent of the 382 cases in the past year, according to county Public Health data.
Thirty-six COVID-19 cases were active as of Monday in Clallam County, with three patients currently hospitalized, two of whom are in the Intensive Care Unit. Jefferson County had nine active cases.
Clallam County is in the state’s high-risk category, having a case rate of 96 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Monday, while Jefferson County in the moderate-risk category with a case rate of 65.83 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.