If you’ve received the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, it’s very important that you get your second dose, which should be taken three to four weeks after the first dose, depending on which vaccine you were given.
Why’s it So Important to Get Both Doses
The timing of your second dose will be coordinated by the providing organization to fall 21 days after the first dose for Pfizer-BioNTech or 28 days for Moderna. The two main reasons why you should get both doses are:
- It impacts vaccine effectiveness. It’s critical to a vaccine’s effectiveness that you follow all the recommended guidelines for its administration and use. In the case of the COVID-19 vaccines, the first shot begins the immunological response, and the second dose builds significantly on this response. For example, the Pfizer vaccine was found to be 52% effective after the first dose and 95% effective after the second dose. Receiving only one of two shots potentially weakens your resistance to COVID-19.
- Vaccine supplies are currently limited. Receiving a first shot and not the second shot essentially wastes a vaccination opportunity. Vaccine supplies are limited and by not getting the second dose, you’re wasting a dose that could have been given to someone else.
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Am I Immediately Protected from COVID-19 After Getting the Second Dose of the Vaccine?
No. It takes a few weeks after your second dose for your body to build up COVID-19 immunity. Your body should start to develop some immunity 12-14 days after your first shot, but the clinical trials and data show that you won’t hit the 90% to 95.6% protection range against the virus until a week or more after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Am I Still Protected Against COVID-19 if I Exceed the Three or Four Week Period?
It’s important to stay as close to the three-week or four-week period between doses as you can. This will give you the best chance of building the strongest immunity to COVID-19.
If you can’t stay within the recommended timeframe, the current guidelines state that you can get your second vaccine up to six weeks after the first, which goes for both vaccines. Currently, there’s limited data on immunity after the six-week mark, so getting it as close as possible to the recommended time frame is best.
Remembering Your Second Dose
If you’re like most people, your life can get hectic and it can be easy to forget an important appointment, such as getting your second dose of the vaccine. One way to help you remember is to set a reminder on your smartphone that will send you notifications to keep it top of mind. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a smartphone app called V-safe that will remind you via text messages that your second shot is due. You can also use V-safe to let the CDC know if you’re experiencing any side effects or any other information that would be valuable in the ongoing evaluation of the COVID-19 vaccine initiative.
More Questions About the Importance of Getting Your Second Dose of the Vaccine?
If you have more questions about getting the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the CDC.
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