HAMILTON COUNTY — In Hamilton County, health department staff and vaccination site volunteers are doing everything possible to make sure people show up to their appointments and get both shots of the Pfizer vaccine.
"We do set up their second appointment for them that way we make sure we aren't getting to them before that 21 day period,” Christian Walker, Public Health Preparedness Coordinator for the Hamilton County Health Department said.
This procedure is pretty common practice at vaccine sites now. However, after they started averaging about 50 no-shows a day at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds vaccine site, health department staff took their efforts a step further.
“We reached out to about 3,500 people and about two-thirds of those responded,” Walker said. "Of those, we had almost 200 people cancel their appointment. So, when we went into the system and canceled them, those appointments immediately became available for other Hoosiers to sign up for vaccines.”
Others who were contacted either rescheduled or got their vaccines elsewhere.
The next step is to ensure people are getting fully vaccinated, as well as opening appointment slots for more people.
The efforts are working. Hamilton County has one of the highest vaccination rates in Indiana. 42% of the 16 and older population are fully vaccinated.
The message of getting both doses is also being well-received, even to those who had reactions to their first dose.
“I had a little bit of itching afterwards it got red it was hot and I had a headache for a couple of days,” Stephanie Cummings, who had a reaction to her first dose said. She came for her second shot of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, fully understanding that’s the only way to move forward and out of the pandemic.
“I want to get the second one so I can get rid of this [my mask].”
Many people at the Hamilton County clinic were receiving their second dose of Pfizer on Tuesday.
"I wanted the second shot I want to make sure I have the antibodies in me in all that so I don't have any problems with infection when I go out,” Kathleen Spears, a Hamilton County resident said.
Experts sais with Moderna and Pfizer, the second shot is key to locking in immunity.
“While you get some protecting from that first shot that second shot is what really has staying power and helps us to achieve impressive levels of protection from COVID disease and death,” Dr. Doehring, M.D., Vice President of Medical Affairs for Franciscan Health said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, early 8% of Americans who received their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna have missed their follow-up appointments for the second dose.
The Hamilton County Health Department does not track specifically if people who do not show up for their appointment are on their first or second dose, with 112,990 people fully vaccinated in the county, it seems many are opting to get both shots.
The vaccine site at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds is accepting walk-ins from 10 a.m. to noon.