Over 110,000 people are late for second COVID-19 vaccine dose in Oklahoma, officials say

Dana Branham

More than 110,000 people who got a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Oklahoma are overdue for a second one, according to data from the state Health Department. 

Of those who have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine through state allocations, 9.4% — or 114,580 — are at least two weeks late on their second dose. That doesn’t include those who have received vaccines in Oklahoma through federal allocations, such as vaccinations given through tribal governments. 

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are a two-dose regimen, given three and four weeks apart, respectively. The first dose can offer some protection, but to get the over-90% efficacy shown in the vaccines’ clinical trials, both shots are necessary, experts say.

One-dose vaccine:J&J back online as Oklahoma health leaders stress its safety

Health Department Deputy Commissioner Keith Reed said vaccine providers try to set second-dose appointments at the time someone gets their first dose and send reminders to return to complete the series. 

COVID-19 vaccine stickers were available for people who got vaccinated at the Sooner Fashion Mall in Norman at a distribution event in January.

“We also realize that things do come up, life gets in the way sometimes and people need to reschedule, so hopefully they'll respond to our reminders and step up and get vaccinated,” he said. “Because while we're pleased to get one dose into people, because that does afford some significant protection, we want them to be fully vaccinated and receive the full benefits of vaccination.”

As of Wednesday, 38% of Oklahoma's adult population was fully vaccinated, and nearly half of the state’s adults have received at least one dose. 

Oklahomans, like AARP State Director Sean Voskuhl, have been leading efforts to get homebound seniors across the state access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

What happens if I miss my second COVID-19 vaccine dose? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the second dose of a two-dose vaccine should be given as close as possible to the recommended interval, not early or late. But the shots can be given up to four days early if necessary, and a second dose is still OK up to six weeks after the first. 

Even if you're outside that recommended window, health officials still urge people to get a second dose as soon as they can. They don't need to start the vaccine series over, according to the state Health Department. 

Dr. David Chansolme, medical director of infection prevention with Integris Health, said studies have shown the first dose of the two-dose shots offer good protection. 

Poll:Oklahoma poll confirms partisan split on COVID-19 pandemic

“That doesn't mean that we're not still recommending two shots for everybody,” he said. “There's a difference between 95% and 80%. That's a real number. To get the maximum benefit from these ... it's important that you get both.”

Dr. Jean Hausheer, the chair of the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition and a former president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, said partial protection is better than none. But completing the two-dose regimen is a “whole different realm” of protection in terms of preventing serious illness, she said.

Across the U.S., about 92% of people who got a first dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine returned for a second shot, according to data from the CDC. The true percentage could be higher, because people may have gotten first and second doses from different organizations whose computer records may not be connected, USA TODAY reported.