Second dose anxiety continues after winter storms close vaccine sites

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Updated: Feb. 18, 2021 at 6:27 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - While many vaccination appointments are being postponed across the Mid-South, distributors are delaying shipments of the shots because of the week of winter weather.

Public vaccinations took a hit this week, but doctors said this week may have been okay for the pandemic and the goal of reducing transmission.

“I think there is a silver lining,” said Dr. Manoj Jain, Infectious Disease Specialist.

Dr. Jain said while public vaccinations screeched to a standstill this week, in Shelby county all sites are closed through Thursday same goes for sites in Mississippi and Arkansas, the winter weather may have helped keep COVID-19 cases low.

“Snow and the ice has caused us to be more socially distant,” said Dr. Jain. “Less people are obviously going to work and less people are engaging in gatherings.”

That same weather is wreaking havoc on the methods of getting vaccines to communities.

The CDC has reported snow has temporarily shut down shipments from the Memphis FedEx hub and the UPS hub in Louisville.

State Health Departments said they did not receive their weekly allotments this week.

Both the Tennessee and Mississippi’s departments or health said they have not had to throw any doses away because of the postponement in appointments.

Arkansas Department of Health said once offices open back up it will have to look at its most recent wastage report to see how its current allotments faired.

Shelby County worked to get their last doses in arms ahead of the snow this week. They called people to get vaccinated on Sunday and gave leftover doses to Shelby County Schools to begin staff vaccinations.

Anxiety is growing on top of anxiety with the week’s vaccination postponements.

For weeks health officials have said six weeks between your first and second COVID-19 vaccination doses is an acceptable time frame.

Now, doctors said they have little information about what will happen if that window is not met.

“There’s not a great deal of concern from my end as an infectious disease doctor,” said Dr. Jain.

Dr. Jain is continuing to follow the guidelines from the CDC when it comes to administering the two COVID-19 vaccines.

While six weeks is considered an acceptable timeframe, there are many Shelby County residents who were vaccinated in January who now have to wait at least another week for their second dose appointment.

That is taking them well over the three to four week window and very close to the six week timeframe.

Dr. Jain said there’s little information about what happens beyond the six weeks.

“What we do know is beyond that six weeks the CDC is not recommending you restart the series,” said Jain.”If people are concerned your physician can have your blood drawn, we can look at antibodies and that will give an excellent perspective on if you have immune protection or not.”

Jain said both shots produce about a 95 percent efficacy rate.

Only one dose produces a 50-80 percent efficacy rate, but about a 90 percent protection against serious illness.

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