GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) — Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses to fully vaccinate a person. Health officials have reiterated the second dose is guaranteed to everyone who got the first one.
However, some are finding it near impossible to make the second appointment.
Seventy-four-year-old Gloucester resident Carolyn Hoover received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine while on an extended stay with her daughter’s family in Colorado.
Her daughter, a doctor in the United States Air Force, thought it was wise for Hoover to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before traveling back to Virginia.
“The Safeway store right near them had it available,” explained Hoover. “We went online. I signed up. I filled out all the forms. They knew I was from Virginia. So I got my first dose on Jan. 8.”
She’s home in the commonwealth now, due for her second shot in a few days. But she can’t seem to make an appointment.
“I’ve called Sentara, I’ve called Riverside, I’ve called the Virginia Health Departments, I’ve called the Peninsula Health Department. I’ve called Portsmouth Naval Hospital because I’m military dependent. And no one has been able to tell me what to do. They take my name and number but I have not heard anything from anyone,” she said.
Since vaccines are a federal program, people can get the first shot in one place and the second shot in another place — even another state. Last week, we saw many Virginians travel across the border to North Carolina because to get a shot.
Now, when people in this group try to schedule an appointment for the second shot, many are not able to.
We spoke with the Will Drewery, the emergency manager from the Western Tidewater Health District about the issue. Drewery said the problem is being handled by higher-ups at the state level, but they are working on it.
“At the state level, they’re working to determine how to address these folks who get their second doses elsewhere in other states and how that factors into the total allocation for a particular health district,” explained Drewery. “Physically, it’s hard to account for somebody who got their dose elsewhere.”
So what should people who find themselves in Hoover’s position do? For now, there’s no easy answer.
“At this point in the juncture, I don’t know of a mechanism that the state has in place to capture that,” said Drewery. “It was something that was discussed at a much higher level earlier today and I think there’s something in the works. but I don’t know what that looks like just yet.
There is relatively small window to get the second dose.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people get their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine as close to the recommended interval as possible. The interval is three weeks for Pfizer-BioNTech, and one month for Moderna.
According to the CDC website, “the second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. There are currently limited data on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series.”