Is there still time to get your second dose of the COVID vaccine if you missed your appointment?


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — After getting one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, some people are not going back for their second dose.

Dr. Jeff Harp of Highland Family Medicine explained the risks involved with skipping the second dose and the window of time you have to change your mind Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

After having one vaccine, some people are not going back for the second dose. Why is that?

We are not sure. Some people may have difficulty scheduling the next vaccine or trouble getting to the vaccination site. In some cases the second dose is not available when needed. Some people may fear the side effects of the second dose.

Are the side effects of the second vaccination different from the side effects of the first?

Most people have stronger side effects after the second vaccine, sometimes intense enough that they need to take a day off work. In the vast majority of cases, the side effects are not more serious, though, just more intense than the side effects they had after the first dose.

When should you get your second shot?

The timing between your first and second shots depends on which vaccine you received. If you received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, you should get your second shot 3 weeks (or 21 days) after your first. If you received the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, you should get your second shot 4 weeks (or 28 days) after your first. Try to schedule the second dose when side effects will be the least disruptive for you. Of course, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a one shot vaccine. No second dose is needed.

What’s the consequence of not getting the second dose?

The main consequence is that the vaccine does not produce the amount of immunity it was designed to provide.

How different is the immunity produced by the two shots compared with just one?

A new CDC study on vaccinated health care workers showed that a single dose of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s COVID vaccine was up to 80% effective in preventing infections. But that number jumped to 90% or more two weeks after the second dose.

Can you still go back and get the second dose if it was not available when you should have had it or if you change your mind after deciding not to get it?

You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 4-week interval as possible. However, according to current guidelines your second dose may be given up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose, if necessary.

What if it has been more than 6 weeks since the first shot?

The CDC has not published guidance about what to do if it has been more than 6 weeks since your first shot. However, many infectious disease experts say that even if you’re beyond six weeks it’s a good idea to get that second shot. It will increase your immunity, although probably not as much as if it was given on time.

Where can I go for more information?

As usual, the CDC website is a great place to look:

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