Health officials run into problems as many don’t return for second dose of COVID-19 vaccine


ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- Local health officials are wondering if the newly approved Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine will make a big difference as many people aren’t showing up for their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Nearly four million doses of the new vaccine are being rolled out across the country right now just days after the FDA approved it for emergency use, and tens of thousands of those are on the way to North Carolina.

On Monday, FOX 46 visited a Charlotte vaccine event where they are averaging 3,000 appointments a day, but over in Rowan County, officials say they’re seeing a problem with people not coming back for their second dose.

County health officials there say about 10 percent of people aren’t showing up for their second shot.

“We really need people to show up for that second dose,” said Rowan County Interim Health Director Alyssa Harris. 

Some excuses they’re hearing are maybe someone isn’t feeling well, they’re out of town, or they’re just a little skittish to get that second shot.

“Maybe people are out of town, maybe they’re not feeling well that day, maybe there’s a type of family emergency,” she said. 

Others may be worried about the potential side effects, which include tiredness, headaches and chills. Harris wants to remind people that skipped appointments do affect them. 

Regardless, officials want people to know the impact a no-show has on their vaccine rollout. Even if they give that vaccine to someone else, it messes with the overall schedule and it’s putting health officials in a bit of a bind. 

“If it can be used as a first does, then that person doesn’t have a second dose and then you no longer have a second dose, so that’s why we try to stay away from using second doses as first doses,” Rowan County Health Director Alyssa Harris said.

What they can’t track is if someone who was a no-show for their appointment went somewhere else to get their shot or if they just skipped it.

“It really does throw off the inventory for us all and it does make it a difficult way to see the full picture of immunity,” she said. 

FOX 46 reached out to every county public health director in our viewing area. In Catawba County, 98 percent of people who get their first shot return for their second shot–and this is just for the counties. They don’t track Walgreens and or CVS which are also administering the shots now.

“My plans are to get the second dose,” one person told FOX 46 as she left a vaccine clinic in east Charlotte. 

“You do take it because not only are you protecting yourself, you’re protecting your loved ones and those in your community,” said another man. 

Burke County has only has three people to date who didn’t get their second shot within the recommended timeframe, according to officials. 

“I’m excited to get my second shot and be fully vaccinated,” said one woman who just got her first shot. 

Some officials are hoping the Johnson & Johnson shot will help get more people fully vaccinated.

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