How state and health officials are keeping track of COVID-19 vaccines

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in our area, and both require two doses anywhere three to four weeks apart. But how are health officials tracking which one you get, when to get your next one and what to do if you miss your second dose?

Before you get the COVID-19 vaccine, doctors say you’ll have to fill out a health status form to make sure you are ready for the vaccine.

“There’s about 10 questions that ask if you have pre-existing conditions, if you’ve had COVID-19 within the past three months, if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant and if you have allergies,” said Dr. Laura Cassidy, Division of Epidemiology director at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Dr. Cassidy says after the vaccination, you’ll be given a small CDC vaccination card.

“You keep that in your wallet, it has the type of vaccine you receive, the lot number, the date and the location,” added Dr. Cassidy.

Right now it’s mostly health systems who are administering the vaccines, and officials say they’re carefully tracking when your next appointment is and which vaccine you got.  Dr. Ben Weston with the Medical College Of Wisconsin got his on Friday, Dec. 18.

“I already have another appointment scheduled in early January to get the second dose, so it’s very carefully coordinated to make sure you get both doses,” said Dr. Weston.

“You need to go back to the same place and you need to get the same type of vaccine,” Dr. Cassidy said.

Your COVID-19 immunization file will be uploaded to local and state database that tracks vaccines, the same way flu vaccines are tracked.

The CDC has also launched the V-Safe smartphone app where you can get reminders for your second dose and tell the CDC if you have side effects after the vaccine.

“This helps us to continuously improve our efforts and to monitor how people are reacting to the vaccine,” added Dr. Cassidy.

Doctors say immunity built by the vaccine is stronger than natural immunity developed in your body after being infected by COVID-19.

“You aren’t weakened by getting a vaccine like you are by getting sick with COVID-19, so your immune response can focus entirely on trying to prevent that next infection,” said Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Doctors say after the first shot, you only have 50-percent protection and the second shot gives you 95-percent protection, but what if you miss the second dose?

“If you do miss it, you don’t have to start over,” said Dr. Cassidy. “You should just get in as soon as possible and get that second booster shot.”

“There’s a certain time period you can get it in, there is a process for catch up dosing if it is missed, but hopefully everyone will stick to the timeline,” said Dr. Weston.

Doctors say herd immunity is reached when 70 to 75 percent of the population gets the vaccine, but until then people should still be wearing their masks, distancing and washing their hands.  

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