Patients Often Miss Boosters in 2-dose Vaccine Regimens

February 1, 2021
Grace Halsey

Patients most often blame forgetfulness for not getting a second shot so reminders are key; just don't rely on a message via a patient portal to reach them.

With 2-dose COVID-19 vaccines now in wide US distribution, a survey of 1000 American consumers turned up worrisome behavior around other multidose vaccines.

Health technology company DrFirst found that many patients do not return for the critical second booster shot.

Why? 60% of patients say they just forgot.

The pattern worries both public health officials and vaccine manufacturers as similar lapses in patient follow-up could significantly impact the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in curtailing the pandemic.

“It’s critical that people get all required doses of multi-dose vaccines, or they won’t work at full effectiveness. I can’t overstate how important this is right now to help bring an end to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic,” said Colin Banas, MD, chief medical officer for DrFirst. “We already know this can be an issue with the two-dose shingles vaccine because only 75% of people come back for the second shot.

Healthcare providers need to understand how easy it is for people to miss these follow-up shots and what kind of reminders work best for patients, especially since so many patients say patient portals aren’t the answer.”

Nearly half of DrFirst survey respondents (43%) reported that they had received a vaccine requiring multiple doses, including for COVID-19, HPV, shingles, and childhood illnesses. However, 13% said that they did not get the second dose or aren’t sure if they did so.

Age does matter. The youngest adults (aged 18-24 years) were most likely to say they did not receive all required doses (18%). The oldest adults (aged ≥65 years) were least likely to say they missed the second dose (4%) but most likely to be unsure if they did (8%).

Well more than half (60%) gave reasons for missing the booster shot that fit under the umbrella of “forgetfulness.” And, there were a variety of other reasons, too.


For more COVID-19 coverage for primary care, visit our COVID-19 Resource Page.