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Montanans following through with 2nd COVID-19 vaccine dose

| May 4, 2021 7:00 AM

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — About 96% of Montanans who have received their first COVID-19 vaccine have been returning to get their second dose, state health officials said.

Jim Murphy, administrator of the health department's Communicable Disease Control and Prevention Bureau, told Montana Public Radio he's pleased that nearly all Montanans who get a first dose are following up and getting their second one.

Nationally, 8% of people who were due to get their second dose by April 9 didn't return for a their second shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Out of almost 400,000 Montanans who have received a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, about 14,600 are at least two weeks overdue for their second shot, Murphy said.

It's possible some have received a second dose in another state, or decided to get a second dose at a pharmacy rather than returning to a mass vaccination clinic, he said, while others could wrongly believe they are protected after one dose.

Others may be wary after their initial experience or reports of side effects by others.

During a virtual AARP Montana town hall last week, a woman said stories about people feeling like they have the flu after being vaccinated were making her nervous about getting the shot.

Dr. Douglas Kuntzweiler with Mountain-Pacific Quality Health told her a bad case of COVID-19 would cause a person to feel a lot worse than the brief potential side effects of being vaccinated.

Local health departments are trying to reach people overdue for their second shot while also trying to find ways to get shots into the arms of the 54% of eligible residents who have not received a first dose.

Over 332,000 Montanans were fully immunized as of Saturday, or nearly 39% of the 865,000 people who are eligible.

The state health department is running public service announcements urging people to get vaccinated and Montana's U.S. Senators — Democrat Jon Tester and Republican Steve Daines — have recorded announcements as well.