Here’s what you should do if you skipped your 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccine

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — What should you do if you got your first COVID-19 vaccine dose months or a year ago and never got around to getting your second shot?

Good news, one doctor says: Just show up and get the shot. 

You don’t have to start all over again — no matter how long it’s been.

“If you’re six months, a year later, just go get that second dose,” said Dr. David Weber, an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

If you’ve skipped your second dose, you have plenty of company across North Carolina.

A total of 244,314 people in the state are considered overdue for their second dose — meaning at least 42 days have passed since their first shot — by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

They account for 6 percent of the 3.9 million people who have gotten their first shot through state vaccine providers, NCDHHS said.

Second-dose skippers have been an issue in the full calendar year since the first vaccine was given last December.

“There is a substantial number who, for whatever reason, after having one dose, don’t obtain a second dose,” Weber said.

That gap is an even bigger deal now with the fast-spreading omicron variant looming. 

While delta remains the dominant strain in the state, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that omicron is spreading rapidly across the U.S. and could bring a wave in the new year.

The booster push is coming as experts say a third booster dose of vaccine provides more protection against omicron than the standard two-shot series.

And people who skipped Dose 2 and were relying on the relatively minimal protection that the first shot of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine gave them could wind up even more vulnerable to another spike.

“We do know vaccines, after two doses, wane, and after one dose, it will clearly wane much more rapidly,” Weber said.

Dr. Sudha Raman, an assistant professor in the population health sciences department at the Duke University School of Medicine, said the “whole group has less-than-ideal vaccination status.”

But with limited public data on the second-dose skippers, it’s hard to tailor an effective message that will reach them.

“We don’t know who those folks are, and how it affects the different groups,” she said.

There are many reasons they didn’t show up for their second shot. Maybe there was a scheduling issue. Or a bad side effect to the first shot, or concern about an even worse reaction to the second.

But it’s not too late. Weber says the general recommendation for all multi-dose vaccines is that “you never have to restart a series.

“You’ve disadvantaged yourself if you let a lot of time lapse between the first and second dose,” he said. “You are not fully protected in that interval. But you can just go ahead and get the second dose. You don’t have to restart with the first dose. And then, when you’re eligible, you should get the booster vaccine.”

CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state, and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.

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