Tens of thousands of Chicagoans who got a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine still have not gotten their second shot, and that concerns city health officials.
The Chicago Department of Public Health reports about 73,500 Chicagoans are more than 42 days past their first dose and have not gotten their second.
Data on vaccination rates updated daily by city officials indicate there are more than 270,000 city residents between doses.
Two of the three coronavirus vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S. – those made by Moderna and Pfizer – require two doses, taken three to four weeks apart. Last week, a New York Times analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found millions of Americans were not showing up for their second shot, for a variety of reasons.
Some told the paper they feared the side effects of their second shot, while others said they felt sufficiently protected with just one dose.
It is not clear why so many Chicagoans appear to have skipped the second dose.
Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s Commissioner of Public Health, has recently addressed this multiple times in press conferences and on her weekly Facebook Live chat.
“I would really encourage you to go back and get your second shot,” she said on April 13 in response to a question submitted by someone who was between her first and second shot.
Trial data from the two-dose vaccines did indicate some protection after the first dose.
“After that first dose in the trials, it was about 50% protection,” Arwady said. “But to get to that 90, 95% protection level, you do need both doses.”
People can wait up to six weeks between doses, though the recommendation is three or four weeks.
“We really encourage people to get that second dose on time,” Arwady said. “That’s how the studies were done. That’s also how we allocate vaccine. We give your provider the amount of vaccine that they need to do second doses for everybody they did first doses for three or four weeks earlier.”
Becky Vevea covers city politics for WBEZ. Follow her @beckyvevea.