Of the 58% of adults in the US with at least one dose of the 2-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines about 8% have failed to show up for their second shot. In Ocean County, data reveals that as of May, 12, 2021, more than 431,400 doses have been administered and close to 200,000 people have been fully vaccinated.
While a three or four week gap between shots is ideal, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises you can get your second shot within 42 days of the first one and stillmount a full immune response. However, beyond that the data is just limited.
“The Ocean County Health Department certainly understands that people have so many important things going on in their lives that may be keeping them from getting the second dose – or even having second thoughts,” said Ocean County Commissioner Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Health Department. “But the bottom line is in order to receive the best potential protection is to follow through and keep from skipping the second dose.”
“The OCHD is reminding people that are overdue or getting close – to schedule that second dose appointment right away so they can complete the 2-dose inoculation series,” added Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn.“More than 90% of appointments at our clinics are for the second dose which is a very positive sign. There is plenty of vaccine and appointments available at the OCHD clinics so booking a second dose – or first dose – should be easy.”
That doesn’t mean the second dose will be ineffective if it’s administered more than six weeks after the first. It only means that research has not specifically measured how much protection the two-dose vaccines offer when the shots are given more than 42 days apart. Still, the CDC says you don’t have to start over if you can’t get a second vaccine within 42 days.
However, it may be tempting to just stick with the one dose you’ve got—after all, one study showed that a single dose of the vaccine was about 80% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections, compared to 90% protection after two.
Dan Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator/Health Officer reiterated that skipping a second dose will not be as effective in preventing the spread and providing the complete protection needed against the virus that has infected more than 64,800 people in Ocean County and 880,630 statewide as of May 11, 2021. “The first dose primes your immune system. The second dose cements the protection. And just make certain you get a second dose of the same vaccine. No mixing and matching,” he said.
OCHD officials hear the number of reasons people have yet to get the second shot. Other than urgent priorities that force someone to cancel or miss an appointment, some additional reasons include; fears of side effects, an inability to take time offof work, personal distractions or incorrectly believing that a single dose is all that is needed to be protected.
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 64% effective at preventing hospitalizations in the elderly after the first dose. But they are 94% effective after two doses.
The second vaccine dose is also essential in preventing the creation and spread of new COVID-19 variants – a mutation of the original virus. While new variants have not yet been identified as deadlier than the original coronavirus strain, according to the CDC, they can be more contagious. This can lead to more cases, more hospitalizations and, potentially, more deaths.
The CDC considers people fully vaccinated:
You are not fully vaccinated if: