PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – You probably wouldn’t leave boot camp halfway through, so that’s why one local doctor is sounding the alarm after new CDC data shows millions of Americans are skipping or missing their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the race to total protection, Dr. Randolph Peters tells KDKA’s Meghan Schiller you want to cross the finish line.

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“Why would you run a 5K and after 3K say ‘eh, let’s just go get a donut?’ It just doesn’t make any sense,” said Allegheny Health Network’s Dr. Peters.

He says if you’re in it, go all the way. Plus, your body responds best with the full dose.

“You’re trying to teach your immune system in an incredibly short period of time: here’s the enemy, how to recognize it, what does it look like, how to attack it,” said Dr. Peters.

Still, new CDC data shows more than 8 percent of Americans missed their second doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. That count runs through April 9, so the numbers of “skippers” could soon increase.

“I don’t understand that. I just can’t put that through my brain,” said Molly Twigg, a student at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Twigg wants her second shot before wrapping up finals at Pitt and heading home.

“I don’t have any finals tomorrow, thank God,” said Twigg. “I have one on Thursday so I’m prepared to spend the day in bed tomorrow if I need to.”

Dr. Peters said fear of those flu-like symptoms is likely one of the main reasons for why people are missing their second shots.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller talked to a group of college freshmen. The men said they might be young, but believe the reward outweighs the risk.

“Last night we went to our campus store and we all bought like three Gatorades, so I think just relying on those,” said Connor Duffy.

“If you do the first one, it’s only an extra 15 minutes to get the second one for that much more of confidence that you’re safe from the virus,” said Colin Fuges.

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The CDC report still describes these missed doses as “infrequent,” saying nearly nine in 10 people with sufficient time to receive their second dose got it. Local healthcare leaders just don’t want skipped dose numbers to increase.

Meghan Schiller