By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4)– There’s still a lot of vaccine hesitancy across the U.S., but millions of people nationwide aren’t getting their second COVID-19 shot either. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, nearly 148,000 Coloradans are late for their second dose.

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CDPHE considers a Moderna or Pfizer recipient late if they’re 42 days overdue for their second shot.

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“We’ve had plenty of people cancel or not show up for their second dose,” said Dr. Richard Zane, Chief Innovation Officer at UCHealth. “With this Delta variant, it could not be more important right now to be as protected as possible.”

When a UCHealth patient cancels or doesn’t show up for their second dose, they’re automatically communicated with and offered to schedule a second dose. Doctors continue to reiterate how important it is that they get both.

“It’s from one end of the spectrum to the other. There’s convenience and logistics. Some believe that since the pandemic feels as though it’s waning, there’s no need for the second dose. Then there’s everything in between from worried about potential side effects to insane made-up consequences of second doses,” said Zane.

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CDPHE continues to reach out to people who have received one or no doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Heather Roth, Immunization Branch Chief, says their outreach is making a difference.

“We’ve performed direct outreach to a little over 105,000 Coloradans who are shown as missing that second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine,” said Roth. “We’ve seen jumps, depending on the age group, anywhere from 5% to 13% following our outreach.”

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Roth says anytime you introduce a multi-dose vaccine series, you’re inviting more complexity. CDPHE isn’t disappointed with the number of single doses.

“Our vaccine completion rates for today’s COVID vaccine series, across all age groups, is sitting at about 94%. When you compare that with some of our other two-dose vaccine series, it’s 20% higher. I think Coloradans are doing a great job at going back and getting that second dose,” said Roth. CDPHE says it is possible that some Coloradans received their second dose out of state or through federal entities that don’t report data to them.

A single shot will provide some protection, but Zane says receiving only one shot could lead to more harm.

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“It could make you more susceptible to someone who gets infected with COVID and forces COVID to mutate and form another variant,” explained Zane.

He says studies show that a second shot is still more effective than one, even if you’re weeks late. It’s much better than not coming back at all.

“If it’s really been a long time, you may want to speak to your provider about restarting the series. Come in for your second dose and then we’ll figure out the rest. It’s that important,” said Zane.

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For information on where to get a COVID-19 vaccine, visit: https://covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine/where-you-can-get-vaccinated 

Tori Mason