DOYLESTOWN >> Bucks County will be reaching out individually to as many as 60,000 partially-vaccinated residents who may have failed to return for their second COVID-19 shots.
Emails, text messages and phone calls will be made to those on the list – first to confirm whether their vaccination status is accurate, and then to encourage second shots for those who did not receive them.
County Health Department Director Dr. David Damsker said the vaccinations are more effective if both doses are administered, even if the first shot was months ago.
“Getting a second dose has been shown to be highly successful against all strains of COVID,” Damsker said. “If you’ve only gotten one shot of Pfizer or Moderna, it’s never too late to finish the series. It’s possible the extra time could even make the second dose more effective.”
Bucks County – and more broadly, all of Pennsylvania – faces an odd conundrum in its vaccination campaign. Both are doing well in administering first doses of COVID vaccine, yet lagging in numbers of people who are fully vaccinated.
Pennsylvania has ranked among the nation’s leaders in both total amount of shots given and percentages of people receiving first doses. Through July 7, 76 percent of adult Pennsylvanians had received first doses of vaccine, but only 60 percent were fully vaccinated, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Bucks County, the CDC reported, 79 percent of adults had received first doses as of July 12, while the percentage of fully vaccinated adults was 65 percent. More than 59,000 partially vaccinated Bucks County residents are eligible for second doses of vaccine but may not have not received them, the Bucks County Health Department reported.
“We still need to bring them back and get them vaccinated," said Bucks County Chief Operating Officer Margaret McKevitt. “COVID’s not over yet; we still have vaccinations to do.”
With the pace of vaccinations slowing, the county on July 3 closed mass clinics at the Perkasie and Newtown campuses of Bucks County Community College, which had opened in February. Clinics at the Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem and Warwick Square in Jamison remain open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m
Under the abbreviated schedule, fewer than 100 shots are being administered daily at the two sites. At their peak in April and May, the county-operated clinics sometimes gave more than 3,000 doses per day.
For a full list of county providers and locations where COVID vaccines are being offered, check Bucks County’s Coronavirus Testing/Vaccination Information page.
McKevitt said she expects the pace to pick up again as fall approaches, with college students and younger children seeking vaccinations before schools reopen. The county’s clinics have administered more than 161,000 doses to date.
Bucks County’s rate of new COVID infections continues to be at a very low level.
The county averaged 11 new cases per day last week, and no deaths in July have been attributed to COVID. Eleven COVID-infected patients are hospitalized in Bucks, one of whom is on a ventilator.