The confusion and uncertainty surrounding the need for a second dose among the public shows the need for better guidance from the medical community.
In the United States, 55% of the adult population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 38% being fully vaccinated. However, recently some worrying numbers have begun to show, with 5 million people, or around 8%, of those who got their first shot have not gone back to get their second.
A recent study, conducted by investigators from Cornell University, has found that those who do skip their second dose may be prolonging the ongoing pandemic.
Results from the study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Many Americans, including many of those who have already received a first vaccine dose, remain confused about the timing of protection and the necessity of a second dose," the investigators said. "Moreover, a large proportion of vaccinees report being uninformed about CDC guidance regarding the need to continue to take prophylactic measures."
For the study, the team sent out a survey to over 1,000 Americans in February, to gauge confusion in the public around the importance of the second dose of a vaccine.
Findings from the study showed that of those who responded, less than half believed that either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine provided strong protection against COVID-19 a week or two after the second shot. 36% of the respondents were unsure if the vaccine provided protection after a single dose.
Less than one third of the respondents said that they were told about the risk of transmitting the virus after vaccination.
"These findings suggest that there is a real need - and opportunity - for the medical community to provide fuller guidance and greater contextual explanations to vaccinees," the authors wrote, "about how life can change after vaccination as we gradually return to normalcy."