Team 12 Investigates: Vaccine recipients scrambling to schedule 2nd COVID-19 shot on time
Many people across the tri-state area who have been lucky enough to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine say they are scrambling to get the second required dose on time - and they turned to News 12’s Tara Rosenblum for help.
Suffolk County schoolteacher Pam Goodland says she was ecstatic to receive her first jab at Fairfield Properties Ballpark - home of the minor league Long Island Ducks baseball team - last week. It all turned into confusion after she received a COVID-19 vaccination card requiring a second dose within a month.
"I said 'How do I do that?' They said ‘we're not really sure,’" she says.
Goodland went online to the CDC, New York state and Northwell Health to get some answers - without much luck.
So, who is responsible for scheduling the appointments?
After analyzing Health Department guidelines, the News 12 team found that whoever administers the first dose is legally required to schedule the second one - immediately.
This means that the best bet is to call the organization that administered the first dose.
Ruth Franciamore is a front-line medical worker in Westchester who was able to get a second appointment - but it was canceled only two days after it was scheduled.
"I got an email from the state that (the) rollout didn't go as planned," she says. "I was like this can't be, how can they cancel my second shot?"
The vaccine rollout has had bumps in the road with supply shortages and glitchy signups, but all the governors in the tri-state area are reassuring residents that they will get the full vaccine course.
The CDC says it’s OK to wait up to six weeks after the first dose to get the second vaccine. Pfizer's team tells News 12 that the safety and efficacy of stretching dosing schedules simply hasn’t been tested yet.
After Turn To Tara repeatedly reached out to Northwell Health, Goodland received her second appointment.
Thousands of others remain in limbo.
Full reaction statement from Pfizer:
Recommendations on alternative dosing regimens reside with health authorities and may include recommendations due to public health principles. As a biopharmaceutical company working in a highly regulated industry, our position is supported by the label and indication agreed upon with regulators and informed by data from our Phase 3 study.
Pfizer and BioNTech’s Phase 3 study for the COVID-19 vaccine was designed to evaluate the vaccine’s safety and efficacy following a 2-dose schedule, separated by 21 days. The safety and efficacy of the vaccine has not been evaluated on different dosing schedules as the majority of trial participants received the second dose within the window specified in the study design.
Data from the Phase 3 study demonstrated that, although partial protection from the vaccine appears to begin as early as 12 days after the first dose, two doses of the vaccine are required to provide the maximum protection against the disease, a vaccine efficacy of 95%.
While decisions on alternative dosing regimens reside with health authorities, Pfizer believes it is critical health authorities conduct surveillance efforts on any alternative schedules implemented and to ensure each recipient is afforded the maximum possible protection, which means immunization with two doses of the vaccine.