Doctors say some are opting out of second vaccine dose in fear of side effects

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Posted at 7:48 PM, Feb 08, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Dr. Aaron Milstone of Williamson County Medical Center says some of his patients are reluctant to get the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, having heard of potential side effects.

While most side effects for the second dose range from fever to chills and muscle soreness, Dr. Milstone says misinformation has been shared across social media to make these side effects appear much worse.

"I’ve had a fair number of patients come in and say I’m only going to get the one dose. I felt good with it, I didn’t have any side effects, why go ahead and tempt fate,” Milstone said.

Dr. Milstone received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and says he did not react to the first dose. Only after receiving the second dose did he experience chills for about four hours. What Dr. Milstone knew is that this immune response is a sign that the vaccine is working.

He says it’s a normal response as your body begins to make the antibodies necessary to fight off the virus and develop immunity. With just one dose, Dr. Milstone says you’re only protected at about 50%. With both doses, you can reach more than 95% protection.

To use an analogy, Dr. Milstone said try to imagine when you’re given antibiotics. Every doctor will tell you to complete your round of antibiotics, otherwise, it won’t have any effect on fighting off your infection. The first dose is meant to “prime” your immune system, while the second dose ensures long-lasting protection.

Dr. Milstone says while there’s still more research required, partial immunity will only “increase the risk that vaccine-resistant variants continue to be a problem in this country.”

For the Pfizer vaccine, there’s a three week period before your second dose and for Moderna, the wait is four weeks. Dr. Milstone says this may also explain why Tennessee has had 5.3% of our population vaccinated with at least one dose, while only 3.9% have had both. It may be good enough to place Tennessee in the top 10 according to Johns Hopkins University’s vaccine tracker, but Dr. Milstone says we could be doing much better at stressing the importance of being fully vaccinated. Other factors for why the number of those fully vaccinated would be lower include the number of available vaccines available across the state.

Metro Public Health Department officials said they’ve had no issues convincing people to return for their second vaccine dose. Davidson County has at least 8.75% of the population vaccinated with at least one dose.

You can visit Tennessee's COVID-19 website for information on your vaccine eligibility and where you can go to get vaccinated in your county.