Receiving second vaccine dose “crucial,” health expert says

Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 5:50 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pima County Health Department said some people aren’t showing up to receive their second shot of the vaccine.

“People who receive two dose vaccines, the efficacy has jumped from about 50% to more than 90% about two weeks after completing both series,” said Sudha Nagalingam, a medical director for the HIV and Infectious Disease Clinic at El Rio.

Vaccine clinical trials only studied people who ultimately received both doses. Nagalingam said it’s unknown what long-term protection a person will have from getting just one shot.

“You don’t know how long it’s going to last, you don’t know how efficacious it’s going to be and you really don’t know what it’s going to mean for variants because that’s a whole new chapter in this pandemic that we’re still trying to get our minds wrapped around,” she said.

Researchers are learning more about how the vaccine and antibodies found in COVID survivors interact.

“There’s probably a dozen studies that show that if you’ve recovered from the infection, after you’ve recovered from COVID, one shot kind of maxes things out and the second doesn’t add a whole lot more at least as far as what we’re able to see as antibodies go,” said Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, an associate professor of immunobiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends receiving both doses within the allocated time frames. A person can get their second Pfizer shot after three weeks and second Moderna dose after four weeks, with a maximum gap of six weeks for either vaccines. For people who are nervous about the possible symptoms of the second dose, doctors say the benefits far outweigh the costs.

“I’ve had the shot and didn’t feel that great for a day after but then I was fine. That’s a lot better than getting infected where things can last for a long time,” Dr. Bhattacharya said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said if you have severe allergic reactions to Moderna or Pfizer and are unable to get the second dose, then you can follow up with a Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a minimum of 28 days.

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