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Data show many Denver residents are overdue for second vaccine dose

Health officials are working to get those who are overdue fully vaccinated.

DENVER — Data provided by the Public Health Institute at Denver Health show many people who have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose are overdue for their second shot.

Among Denver residents, 5.5% of those who have received at least one dose of a two-dose vaccine did not complete their two-dose regimen on time. That totals more than 26,000 people.

A person is considered overdue if more than six weeks have passed since they received their first dose.

Tori Burket, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment's (DDPHE) epidemiology and disease intervention program manager, and her team have studied the trends in Denver's vaccine data.

She said those who never received their second dose are often young (under 30). 

Some vaccine recipients opted not to disclose their sex or race. But among those who did, more males are overdue for their second shot than females.

Also, communities of color have higher rates for overdue vaccines than whites. 

"So we can definitely see some disparities there in looking at race and ethnicity in percentage of people overdue for second dose," Burket said.

Burket said researchers don't know why some people never got their second shot, but said it is important to try and reach them.

She said her team is working with healthcare providers to educate people on the importance of getting both doses. They're also working to make sure those vaccinations are accessible by removing barriers. 

One example, Burket said, is people who went to large community vaccination sites but may have had transportation issues that made it difficult to return for their second dose. She said they want to ensure that people don't need a vehicle to get vaccinated.

Other things, such as confusion over needing a second dose or simply forgetting to get it, could also be part of the problem, she added.

"The reason we want such a focus on completing vaccination is because we know with people who are getting a two-dose series, for them to receive the maximum security for that vaccination to protect against not just COVID infection, but hospitalization and death, they need to complete that series," Burket said.

The data about overdue vaccines is based on data reported to the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS). According to the state health department, some people may be fully vaccinated but not accounted for in that system.

That includes people who received their first or second dose out of state or through a federal entity which doesn't report into CIIS. 

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