Dr. Krista Burris and her husband recently received the coronavirus vaccine.
Her husbands appointment was scheduled online through a county clinic, and they were surprised to learn the site didn’t automatically schedule their patients for a second dose after their first vaccination.
“It was surprising. Just based on how difficult it was to get an appointment that they wouldn’t have come up with a system to sort of plan for the second shot, especially for a vaccine that has a very specific day for when you’re supposed to get that second shot,” said Dr. Burris, with Coachella Valley Direct Primary Care.
Patients have to book the second session through the county’s website, just like they did for the first.
The only problem is, thousands of appointments have filled up in a matter of hours, and all appointments are filled through Friday.
Now Dr. Burris is worried her husband and members of group 1A will have a hard time finding an opening online for their second shot, as they compete with thousands of other valley residents.
“That’s a little concerning that this large group of vulnerable people will get either delayed or miss second doses,” said Dr. Burke.
County health officials recognize the community’s concerns, they say the number of appointments should increase soon.
“We are adding clinics as we get more vaccines, so I’m just asking people to be patient to keep checking on our website,” said Kim Saruwatari, Director of Public Health for Riverside County.
But what happens if a patient is unable to make an appointment for the recommended return date?
“It’s okay if you get it four weeks after or five weeks after,” said Dr. Geoffrey Leung, Chief of family medicine for Riverside University Health system. “If people miss their second dose for some reason it’s okay to reschedule that without having to restart the series.”
And are patients protected between vaccinations?
“With the Pfizer vaccine, after one dose and at about two weeks after, you probably have about 50 percent protection. With the Moderna vaccine a little after two weeks out you probably will have 80 percent protection, but that second dose gets you to 94 or 95 percent.”
With this data in mind, Dr. Burris believes the county should make the at-risk community looking for a second dose a top priority.
“If they’re not sure if they’re going to have enough vaccine to actually do both, then they should prioritize the second shots and maybe take a couple week break to catch up,” said Dr. Burris.
When asked if Riverside County Health considered prioritizing second doses, they provided this statement:
“At this time, the county is distributing all vaccine within a few days of receiving it for any appointment – first or second dose. We are working with the state to address the concerns regarding the second dose and will update as soon as more information is available.”
New appointment times and clinics will be listed on the county’s website.