DES MOINES, Iowa — After making plans to see large allocations of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines in February based on patterns from the previous month, the Polk County Health Department is now informing Iowans they may have to wait longer to receive their second Moderna shot.
According to PCHD, they received larger allocations of the Moderna vaccine than the Pfizer vaccine in January.
"The Polk County Health Department made a planning assumption that the supply of both brands would continue to increase and in an effort to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, used all available doses as the first in the series," spokeswoman Nola Aigner Davis said.
But PCHD did not receive an increase in supply like it anticipated, leaving 14,000 people in the county who need to receive their second Moderna dose.
“The weather impacted 6,825 Pfizer doses and 1,600 Moderna doses," Aigner Davis said on Thursday. "All of our partners have things in place to work with their patients and clients about getting their second doses. So, this may be a phone call, an email, this may be a text message. They will all get confirmations about their second dose."
Right now, the department is focused on vaccinating residents who need their second shot. Limited first dose appointments are still happening, though those are at clinics and select pharmacies with the Pfizer vaccine.
For the 14,000 who need their second dose, because of the less-than-anticipated vaccine allotment, they may not receive their second shot on the exact day or week as previously scheduled.
"While there may be a delay in receiving the second dose of the Moderna vaccine, the CDC states that the timing of your second dose will not compromise the effectiveness of your vaccination and you will not have to start the series over again," Aigner Davis said. "Recent research is showing that the first dose alone is providing up to 80% effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 infection."
PCHD cited the CDC, who says if the second dose is administered within a 42-day interval, the series does not need to be restarted.
However, Joni Moore-Dougherty, 69, said she was scheduled for her second dose this week and then it was canceled.
"I’m high risk. I was diagnosed with cancer and so I’m very nervous about it and I’ve called and talked to their office and they said they were going to get back to me and I haven’t heard anything more," said Moore-Dougherty.
While others, like Colin Scanes, said he got his first dose five weeks ago and hasn't been lucky scheduling his next one.
“If they’re short of vaccines, surely there’s a way to put up a lottery and if you can’t get a date this week or next week perhaps three weeks down the road," Scanes said. "But at least you know where you are.”
Medicap told Local 5 none of their 20 locations received any COVID vaccine shipments for the scheduled appointments this week. Cheri Schmit, the director of clinical pharmacy, said those doses will be coming, but the weather might create a backlog.
Those who are eligible to get their second dose in Polk County will receive an email from the health department with an opportunity to sign up for a second dose appointment.
Brands of vaccine cannot be interchanged, public health experts say.
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