HELENA — An estimated 51% of the people eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Lewis & Clark County are considered fully vaccinated, with just under 60% considered partially vaccinated.
According to Lewis & Clark Public Health, between December 2020 and May 2021, around 2% of county residents received a first dose of a two-shot COVID-19 vaccine and missed their second dose.
The CDC defines a missed dose as one where a person went beyond 42 days without the second dose. The best time to get the second shot is between 21-28 days after the first dose. Local experts say there are a few reasons why folks are missing that second shot.
“First, people get the 1st dose and think ‘well I've got one dose. I know there's a protection,' and so they feel that is adequate,” says Tom Richardson, Clinical Pharmacy Manager at St. Peter’s Health. “I think there's probably a little bit of hesitation with that 2nd dose knowing that some of the adverse effects could happen. A lot of times people get the 1st dose and then they have a trip planned. They go beyond the 21 or 28 days, depending if you got Pfizer or Moderna and then figure ‘well I'm outside of those windows anyway should I get it? Should I even get the 2nd dose at this point?"
Public Health confirmed that even if you go beyond 42 days, you can still get the second dose.
“I think that one common question I get is ‘if I go outside of the 21 or 28 days, do I have to restart the series?’ The answer to that is no,” says Richardson. “You just have to get that 2nd dose as soon as you can and there's no limitation, there's no cap on how long that would be."
There is also no cap to the amount of resources to obtain the vaccine. Public Health says you can visit any facility offering the vaccine, even if you didn’t get your first dose from them. All you need to bring is your vaccine card and you can get the second dose, no questions asked.
"We are targeting a lot of education around, trying to promote the benefits of the 2nd dose, helping people understand that the only way to realize the full benefit protection of the vaccine is you have to get both doses in the 2-dose series."
Public Health officials say one dose is only about 50-70% effective against COVID-19. Two weeks after you receive the second dose, that percentage goes to up 95% and maybe even higher.
Individuals can call the county COVID-19 Hotline at 833-829-9219 for more guidance, or click here for locations of the county mobile clinics.