Many Floridians Overdue for 2nd COVID Vaccine Dose, Worried of Side Effects

Some Florida residents are past due for their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine as many face concerns about the vaccine's potential side effects.

The two COVID-19 vaccines approved in the United States each require a second dose about 3-4 weeks after the first one to be fully effective. The Pfizer vaccine requires a second dose after 21 days, and the Moderna vaccine after 28 days.

More than 1 million Florida residents have been vaccinated for COVID-19, and nearly 92,000 of those have already followed up with their second dose, according to Florida's Department of Health.

Of the remaining 915,000 people who received the first dose, more than 40,000 of them are overdue for their second shot.

Many of them are seniors who are worried about side effects from the follow-up dose.

Jason Mahon, a spokesperson for the state's Department of Health, told local newspaper South Florida Sun-Sentinal that everyone who received the first dose is immediately scheduled for their second one. Mahon also noted that 80 percent of the people due for the second dose got it.

The issue for many Florida residents not receiving the second dose is not one of availability as Florida has collected nearly 2 million vaccine doses, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Florida Nursing Home Residents Receive 2nd COVID-19
A healthcare worker with American Medical Response, Inc working with the Florida Department of Health in Broward is shown above administering a Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at the John Knox Village Continuing Care Retirement Community on January 6, 2021 in Pompano Beach, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images/Getty

Although the exact reason why some Floridians are skipping the second dose is unclear, some speculate it could relate to the side effects of the booster shot.

"I heard there are some seniors balking at getting the second shot because they've heard that the side effects are worse with the second shot," Todd Husty, an emergency medical service director in Seminole County, told local television station WFLA.

According to the CDC, side effects may include pain and swelling at the injection site, fever, chills, tiredness, and headaches. Some people reported intensified side effects after the second shot of the vaccine. Health officials, however, have noted that severe symptoms from the vaccine are rare.

Husty said the solution is to educate people that contracting COVID-19 is far worse than the vaccine's side effects.

Over 11,000 new cases of coronavirus and 133 deaths were reported in Florida on January 17. Over the past week, there has been an average of 13,467 new cases each day, according to data from the New York Times. Over the course of the pandemic, the state has seen more than 1.5 million cases and 24,000 deaths.

Florida is one of the eight states that have reported the more infectious B.1.1.7 variant. Cases of the variant have also been identified in Colorado, California, Georgia, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Although, health officials warn that the variant is likely circulating undetected across the country.

Newsweek reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment.