As Denton County Public Health prepares to start offering second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to residents who’ve already received their first, director Matt Richardson said logistic concerns could be on the horizon between provider-recipient confusion and residents who simply don’t return for their second shot.
Richardson addressed the vaccination effort and other county-wide coronavirus developments at Tuesday’s Denton County Commissioners Court Meeting. He said next week will be the first week DCPH can offer the second dose of the Moderna vaccine, given about 28 days apart, as it will have been nearly a month since its first clinic for emergency medical service providers and home health care workers was held.
The department is expecting its second-dose shipment to arrive this week, which Richardson specified is identical to the first doses.
“The booster vaccine is no different from the first dose — it’s the exact same vaccine, in the exact same formulation, in the exact same volume,” Richardson said. “You cannot mix and match. If you got the Moderna or the Pfizer, you must get that [same producer] as a booster.”
But with the arrival of those second doses, Richardson said, could come a few logistical hurdles. Firstly, he acknowledged that not everyone who received the first shot will come back for their second — an issue he said providers across the county will have to address.
“I’m sure that it won’t be a 100% return, so we’ll work through that problem,” Richardson said. “That’s going to be, no doubt, a state-wide and national concern.”
For now, DCPH’s plan is to only give second doses to residents it also gave the first to, with Richardson adding the department doesn’t recommend switching providers for that second shot. That recommendation is due to the state’s allocation system, which he explained will ship vaccines specifically for use as second doses to providers based on their initial allocations, so that each has enough.
State officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott himself, have previously addressed that concern after some providers were setting aside a portion of their initial allocations in order to have enough to vaccinate recipients twice.
However, some of that confusion appears to remain among both recipients and providers, as Precinct 4 commissioner Dianne Edmondson said at the meeting that she’s received calls from residents whose initial providers told them they were “on their own” when it comes to the second dose. In response, Richardson reiterated the state’s guidance to providers, adding it would be difficult for DCPH to pick up the slack.
“Even if a pharmacy or doctor’s office says differently … the allocations will follow — if they gave 100 first doses, they’re going to get a booster allocation of another 100, and the expectation is that they vaccinate the second dose to those same patients,” Richardson said. “If we do have additional doses, we may be able to open that to the public. I’m not sure how we would coordinate that.”
DCPH spokesperson Jennifer Rainey stated via e-mail that the department has received the 6,000 doses it was allocated for the week and will be holding two drive-thru clinics at First Baptist Church in Lewisville Wednesday and Friday. Each will have 3,000 vaccines, the same size as last Thursday’s clinic at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, and will still be available only by appointment through the DCPH online waitlist.
Future clinic plans, Rainey stated, are still up in the air as DCPH works through the details of offering both the first and second doses of the vaccine.