MILWAUKEE — Nationwide nearly eight percent of people are skipping their second Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
A New York Times analysis found that the percentage amounted to about 5 million people.
As efforts to push COVID-19 vaccines into arms continue, health care providers and pharmacists in the Milwaukee area report a "small" number of people seemingly skipping their second shot.
"Our bigger concern is the duration of protection," said Dr. Margaret Hennessy with Ascension All Saints. "I don't know that you'll have protection for the six months that were seeing after people receive two doses, and it's so important right now because we're in some sense in a race against time with new variants."
"All the data points toward get the two-shot series to get the adequate, not only immune response, which is the antibody response, but also that cell-mediated immune response, which helps the antibodies do their job," said Dr. Mary Beth Graham, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Froedtert Hospital.
Hayat Pharmacy has been administering COVID-19 vaccines throughout the Milwaukee area at their pharmacy locations and busy sites like the Milwaukee Public Market.
Pharmacist Dimmy Sokhal said they are seeing roughly 15 - 20 percent of patients not returning for the second dose, but the reasons why are not clear cut.
"It's kind of early to say if they're missing the second dose or they're just trying to procrastinate it for multiple reasons. It could be if they're traveling, if they have work commitments, or they figured somewhere else to go which was more convenient. So it's kind of hard to say what the exact reason is or if they're missing a dose," Sokhal said, noting that generally, most people return for their second shot.
The NYT analysis reported in interviews some people feared side effects, felt their first shot was enough, or vaccinators canceled second dose appointments due to supply.
Another locally owned pharmacy noted they are helping people get their send dose after missing an appointment at a different location.
"If you missed your appointment and it's been a couple of weeks, it's okay to still get that second dose. You don't have to restart the series," said Dr. Hennessy.
TMJ4 News reached out to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services for information on the total number of people missing their second shots, but have not heard back.
Doctors continue to stress vaccinations remain critical to getting out of the pandemic.