Story was updated January 27th with new information from Walgreens. Walgreens says its online scheduling tool has been updated to allow people make appointments for both first and second doses at the same time.
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in North Texas has proved challenging for many people who are eligible to receive the vaccine. For those who have received the first dose, there’s another wave of confusion about how to get the second dose within the recommended time frame.
Dozens of North Texans contacted NBC 5 Responds saying they’re getting little or no information about scheduling an appointment for a second dose.
The latest news from around North Texas.
“I’m getting nowhere with it”
Betsy Daste, of Frisco, said she felt lucky to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 11 after spotting a Facebook post about a new shipment at her local Walgreens. As she was getting her shot, Daste said she asked about the second dose of the Moderna vaccine.
“Are you going to make the appointment now or call me?” Daste recalled asking.
She said the pharmacy couldn’t give her specifics.
“Well, we don't have a shipment coming in. We don't know,” said Daste.
Daste is in the 1B priority group and her husband, who is in his 80s and diagnosed with COPD, still hasn’t been able to get the first dose of the vaccine.
Daste said she began calling around in an attempt to get on a list for a second dose. Other providers have told her you can’t register for just a second dose.
“I’m getting nowhere with it,” said Daste, when she spoke with NBC 5 Responds this week. “I’m really afraid it will go right past that date.”
Both COVID-19 vaccines available now are given in two doses. Moderna recommends the second dose is given around 28 days after the first. Pfizer recommends 21 days between shots.
“How many days past 28 can you go before the second shot is going to give you full immunity? That's the concern. If this thing drags on,” said Walt Laidlaw of Dallas.
He and his wife received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine at the Fair Park vaccine mega center site on Jan. 15 as part of the effort to vaccine people 75 years old and older.
Laidlaw said they received no information about a second dose which is recommended around Feb. 12.
“It's a very unsettling feeling hanging out there with no assurance,” said Laidlaw.
Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?
As the state begins to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines for those in Phase 1A and 1B, county health departments have begun waitlists for those wish to be inoculated.
You can now register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:
You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.
Different procedures for different vaccine sites
Here’s how the second dose distribution is supposed to work.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said it is allocating the same number of second doses to each provider and people should go back to the same place they received their first dose.
For example: if a provider gets 500 Moderna shots, it should expect 500 more four weeks later and three weeks later for Pfizer shots - following the timing recommended by each manufacturer.
However, many North Texans told NBC 5 Responds that message isn’t clear at vaccine sites.
Part of the problem is there is not one, consistent system for appointment scheduling, follow-up dose notifications or a way for people to track their place in line after registering for the vaccine.
Each vaccine site has its own system for setting up the second vaccine dose.
Dallas County Health and Human Services
Dallas County said everyone who received the first dose from Dallas County Health and Human Services is guaranteed a second dose with DCHHS.
The county said it will follow up with people closer to the date on the back of your vaccine card.
In the meantime, Dallas County said you should plan to go back to the same site on the recommended second dose date.
Tarrant County Public Health
If you got a vaccine through Tarrant County Public Health, the county said you’ll get a second dose appointment notice one to two days before your appointment.
If you received a vaccination from one of Tarrant County Public Health’s partners, meaning you signed up with Tarrant County Public Health but received the vaccine with a partner like the Arlington Fire Department, the county said you will receive notification about the second shot from the Arlington Fire Department.
Parkland is automatically scheduling people for a second appointment at the time they receive their first dose. You should leave the first appointment with the second appointment scheduled.
An NBC 5 viewer reached out this week because she was automatically scheduled for a second appointment 28 days after her first. When she later looked at her vaccine card, she saw she received the Pfizer vaccine which recommends a second dose at 21 days.
Parkland told NBC 5 there was a scheduling mistake on Tuesday when a site switched from Moderna to Pfizer vaccines. Parkland expected it impacted fewer than 100 people and Parkland is reaching out directly to reschedule appointments. The viewer who flagged the issue to NBC 5 confirms Parkland rescheduled her second appointment to line up with Pfizer’s recommended dosing schedule.
Walgreens said its policy is to contact the patient to schedule a second dose. Walgreens said you will get a reminder with instructions closer to the date the second dose is recommended, and that the reminder will not come right after the first dose.
Walgreens later added that its online scheduling tool has been updated to allow people make appointments for both first and second doses at the same time.
Betsy Daste said she received a call from Walgreens after contacting NBC 5 Responds. She said the representative told her Walgreens would provide the second dose at the same location she received her first.
Albertsons, Tom Thumb
Albertsons and Tom Thumb said people can use an online scheduler to make their second dose appointment at the same location of their first dose. People should receive a notification after their appointment time to confirm dose one; once the patient confirms, they will be able to schedule their second dose.
The company also said pharmacy teams are running reports to ensure people don’t miss their second dose.
Kroger told NBC 5 Responds that conveying second dose appointment information has been a challenge for many providers. Kroger said it fully expects its pharmacies will receive allocations of second doses.
Kroger said it will use the contact information provided at the time of the first dose and schedule the patient for their second dose.
“It’s almost like every man and woman for themselves”
Chris Phipps received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 7. The back of his vaccine card, where the provider typically notes the date of the second dose, was blank.
Phipps said he figured he is due for the second dose of his Moderna vaccine on Feb. 4. He said he couldn’t find clear information about scheduling a second appointment, so he drove back to Kroger where he said a pharmacist told him they didn’t have specifics yet.
“She concluded with: come back in the around the time of your second shot and see if we have any,” recalled Phipps. “There was an older man behind me and he kind of belted out: Great, that's what I had a question about. I couldn't figure out a darn thing!”
Phipps said he hasn’t yet received a call from Kroger and plans to go back around Feb. 4 to try to get his second dose.
“It’s almost like every man and woman for themselves. You have to do your own work, you have to call, you have to email, you have to go online, you’ve got to go in person. They’re not going to come to you house and say it’s time for a shot,” said Phipps.
What if I can’t get the second dose on schedule?
The common concern from North Texans who contacted NBC 5 Responds is that their second doses would be delayed because of supply constraints.
If their second dose is delayed, does that decrease overall vaccine effectiveness?
The Texas Department of State Health Services said the federal government is shipping the vaccine throughout the week. If you are able to reach your provider and they tell you they don’t have it yet, it may just mean it’s on its way.
The state also said the second dose doesn’t have to be given exactly 28 or 21 days later.
The CDC updated its guidance on Thursday, saying the second dose could be scheduled up to six weeks after the first dose. At the same time, the CDC still recommends that second doses should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible.
We asked Dr. Syra Madad, an infectious disease epidemiologist and senior director of the System-Wide Special Pathogens Program at NYC Health + Hospitals, to weigh in.
Madad said you should not have to start over if you miss your second dose window because of factors outside of your control.
“What we know right now in the recommendation from a public health standpoint is you're not going to repeat the series. You're not going to get another shot and then another shot after that,” explained Madad.
“At the end of the day, get your second dose as close to the due date as much as possible. If there's a delay, if there's an issue with supply, just get it as soon as you can,” said Madad.
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Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Data from the Texas Department of State Health Services shows where COVID-19 vaccines have been sent around the state. Click on a marker to find out information about each location. Use the "plus" and "minus" signs below to zoom in and out of the map.
From the Texas DSHS: Availability of COVID-19 vaccines lilsted on this map are based on shipping information and reporting to the DSHS directly by facilities. Please contact providers in advance to confirm vaccination location and hours, that they have vaccine on hand and that you are eligible for vaccination at that site. Not all providers are vaccinating the public or people in all priority groups. Vaccine is available at no charge, regardless of insurance status.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.