Second dose vaccine appointments in short supply

For many seniors who were lucky enough to get a first COVID-19 vaccine dose, finding a second dose isn’t as easy.

KIRO-7 has heard from patients who are upset they can’t get a second appointment after they received their first shot.

After trying online for more than a week, Bill Gaines asked KIRO-7 for help. Gaines and his wife are longtime Overlake Medical Center patients.

“We anticipated we would schedule our second dose at the time of our first dose. That’s what many of the providers are doing, but we learned Overlake is not doing it that way, so that was a surprise for us.”

They got their first shots about 10 days ago, but haven’t been able to make appointments for the next dose.

“There really aren’t any appointments there at all, let alone in the time frame we need,” said Gaines. “We’ve had good quality care from Overlake over the years, and were surprised and frustrated this isn’t happening in a smooth, best-practices manner,”

KIRO-7 reached out to Overlake and heard back late Wednesday:

“We are aware that some first dose vaccine recipients have not yet scheduled their second dose. Per guidance from public health authorities, we have identified and are contacting these individuals in order to complete their vaccination process within the 3-6 week timeframe recommended by CDC.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised guidance last month “to allow for second dose administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval”.

At University of Washington Medicine, Dr. Deborah Fuller says it is that second dose that really triggers the immune system.

“That first dose wakes it up and when you see that second dose, your body remembers that first dose and the wake-up call is even bigger. That’s why on the second dose you get more reactogenicity,” explained Dr. Deborah Fuller at UW Medicine.

Reactogenicity is the property of a vaccine to produce common, expected symptoms such as soreness.

Without it, doctors say you can still contract COVID-19. She has some reassurance for patients seeking second doses.

“If you’re a few days off, a week off, then you shouldn’t worry about it, your immune system will remember that first dose and respond just as well after you get the second dose,” said Dr. Fuller.