Thousands overdue for second COVID-19 shot in Long Beach

Health officials on Friday said about one in 10 people are overdue for their second COVID-19 shot in Long Beach as millions across the country have skipped second doses.

As of Wednesday, 176,176 people in Long Beach have received their first shot, while 115,104 have received a second and 22,415 are committed to their second dose, according to city numbers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 28 days between doses for Moderna. and 21 days between Pfizer doses, but people can still get a shot if they have passed that timeline.

Long Beach city spokesperson Jennifer Rice Epstein on Friday said 10.24% of people haven’t received their second dose in more than 40 days and the city is reaching out to those who have missed their appointment.

The numbers, however, may be lower as some people might have gone elsewhere to receive their second shot, she added.

According to news reports this week, about 8% of people in the U.S. have skipped their second shot, prompting health officials to stress the importance of receiving a second dose for maximum immunity.

Health officials have said a single dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine is 80% effective in preventing infection. The vaccines are more than 90% effective following the second dose.  

“Being fully vaccinated is a critical tool in reducing the spread of COVID-19, and the City urges everyone who has received one dose of Pfizer or Moderna to get their second dose,” Rice Epstein wrote in an email. “We’ve established ongoing community clinics in addition to the Convention Center mass vaccination site, and both are available without an appointment. This is designed to make getting your vaccine—both first and second doses—as easy as possible.”

Overall, Long Beach has shown progress ahead of state and county numbers in its vaccine rollout. As of this week, more than 94% of seniors and 56% of all eligible residents have received at least one dose.

While Los Angeles County continues to show progress in its COVID-19 vaccination efforts, figures released Monday showed that nearly 278,000 people in the county may be overdue for their second dose, possibly due to concerns about side effects or a belief that one shot is enough.

As of last week, more than 4.4 million people in the county have received at least one vaccine dose, and nearly 2.6 million had received a second dose, according to Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

But county figures showed 277,902 people were considered overdue for their second dose.

“There are many reasons why this number might be showing up,” Ferrer said. “One is that some of these doses are actually second doses for people who received the first dose outside LA County. Another is that people have simply forgotten to get their second dose. Some people may have been put off by side effects of their first dose or feel that one dose is as effective as they need and is going to be enough protection.”

She urged people due for their second shot to get it, stressing that while one dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines does offer some protection, it’s not complete. She said the county is also seeing continued declines in hospitalizations among residents 65 and older and in the severity of cases in people that are hospitalized, demonstrating the effectiveness of the shots.

“Getting everyone fully vaccinated, which means two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine if that’s the vaccination you received, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, is the best hope for seeing these positive trends spread even more widely across all our communities. The flu-like symptoms that many people have for a very short while after vaccination are signs your immune system is working.”

“And while one dose does offer some protection, it is not as strong a level of protection as what two doses offer,” Ferrer said. “So if you’re overdue for your second dose, come back to us and let’s together spread better health throughout the county.”

Ferrer said that in many cases, the county has contact information for people who have not returned for a second dose, and will be conducting outreach.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have that information for everybody,” she said.

Long Beach, starting this week, has boosted its hours of operation at the Convention Center vaccination walk-up and drive-thru clinics. People who are 16 years and older can now receive a vaccination without an appointment from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m to 3 p.m on Saturday.

The city will also soon partner partner with the Long Beach Unified School District to place mobile clinics on school campuses.

Community clinics are being held in areas of Long Beach hardest hit by the pandemic. The hours are:

    • Admiral Kidd Park, 2125 Santa Fe Ave.; Mondays 3 to 5 p.m.; and Thursdays 9 to 11 a.m.
    • MacArthur Park, 1321 E. Anaheim St.; Tuesdays 3 to 5 p.m.; and Fridays 9 to 11 a.m.
    • Houghton Park, 6301 Myrtle Ave.; Wednesdays 3 to 5 p.m.; and Saturdays 9 to 11 a.m.

City News Service contributed to this report

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].