COVID Vaccine Alert: DrFirst Survey Finds People Often Forget to Get the Second Dose of Multi-Dose Vaccines

January 28, 2021

COVID Vaccine Alert: DrFirst Survey Finds People Often Forget to Get the Second Dose of Multi-Dose Vaccines

Patients say reminders would help, preferring calls and texts over patient portals

Rockville, Md. – Jan. 28, 2021 – As COVID-19 vaccines that require two doses become more widely available across the U.S., a survey by health technology pioneer DrFirst reveals many Americans miss the critical second booster shots of multi-dose vaccines. Sixty percent of survey participants who missed their second dose stated it was related to forgetfulness.

These gaps could diminish the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in protecting people and curtailing the pandemic, according to the vaccine manufacturers and public health experts. The survey also examined the reasons people miss these doses and what they say could improve their compliance.

As healthcare organizations grapple with the logistical challenges of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, understanding how to help people receive all necessary doses can make or break the effort’s success. DrFirst is making it possible for providers to send alerts to large groups of patients about when and how they can register for vaccines through its HIPAA-compliant Backline telehealth and care collaboration platform. Because Backline’s text messages protect patients’ private health information, the platform also can be used to send vaccine recipients second-dose reminders and certification of their vaccine status and COVID test results.

“It’s critical that people get all required doses of multi-dose vaccines, or they won’t work at full effectiveness. I can’t overstate how important this is right now to help bring an end to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic,” said Colin Banas, M.D., chief medical officer for DrFirst. “We already know this can be an issue with the two-dose shingles vaccine because only 75% of people come back for the second shot. Healthcare providers need to understand how easy it is for people to miss these follow-up shots and what kind of reminders work best for patients, especially since so many patients say patient portals aren’t the answer.”

Missing the shot

Nearly half of survey respondents (43%) reported that they had received a vaccine requiring multiple doses, including for COVID, HPV, shingles, and childhood illnesses. Yet 13% said that they did not get the second dose or aren’t sure if they did so.

Differences among age groups are evident. The youngest adults aged 18-24 were most likely to say they did not receive all required doses (18%). The oldest adults aged 65 and over were least likely to say they missed the second dose (4%) but most likely to be unsure if they did (8%).

Forgetting is the top reason

While respondents stated numerous reasons for missing the second vaccine dose, well over half of them (60%) gave reasons that could fit within an overall “forgetfulness” category:

  • Just plain forgot (21%)
  • Did not receive a reminder from their provider (18%)
  • Didn’t realize they needed additional vaccine doses (14%)
  • Missed the appointment (10%)

Other reasons included:

  • Told by family, friends or social media that a follow-up dose wasn’t needed (8%)
  • Decided to only get the first dose (10%)
  • Bothersome side effects (5%)
  • Other unspecified reasons (18%)

Which reminders would help

Text message reminders would make it most likely for people to get their vaccines (40%), whether it’s a single- or multi-dose regimen. For second doses, patients preferred both phone calls (32%) and text messages (24%) to remind them to get the subsequent dose. Fewer than 8% (7.6%) preferred receiving notifications through a patient portal.


A national online survey of 1,004 U.S. consumers, ages 18 and over, was conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of DrFirst in December 2020, with a maximum margin of sampling error of +/- three percentage points at a 95% level of confidence.



About DrFirst

Since 2000, DrFirst has pioneered healthcare technology solutions and consulting services that securely connect people at touchpoints of care to improve patient outcomes. We create unconventional solutions that solve care collaboration, medication management, price transparency, and adherence challenges faced in healthcare. We unite the Healthiverse—the interconnected healthcare universe—by providing our clients with real-time access to the information they need, exactly when and how they need it, so patients get the best care possible. DrFirst solutions are used by nearly 300,000 healthcare professionals, including more than 100,000 prescribers, nearly half of the EHRs in the U.S., and more than 1,400 hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. To learn more, visit or follow @DrFirst.



Alessandra Nagy