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COVID-19 VACCINE: the importance of the second dose

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(WVVA) - As vaccination against COVID-19 continues across the nation, some have already received, or are preparing to receive their second dose.

It's been roughly two months since the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines rolled out across the United States. Many here in the two Virginias have already received their first dose.

However, with both mRNA vaccines, you will need a second shot. Medical experts like local Radiation Oncologist Dr. Joseph Baisden call this the booster dose.

"It really is a second exposure to the pathogen and then the body knows this is a potential real threat in the future and so that is why the booster dose works."

Dr. Joseph Baisden, Radiation Oncologist

This is not the first vaccine to have a booster dose. For example, the tetanus shot is recommended to be taken every 10 years by the CDC. The second dose of the varicella vaccine, which is a chicken pox vaccine, can be given three months after the first dose.

The coronavirus mRNA vaccines are on a different timeline. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine can be taken three weeks after the first shot, while the second dose of the Moderna vaccine can be taken a month after the first injection.

"The reason the COVID vaccine is on this different schedule is they really accelerated the trials to try and get a response and get this vaccine out. Rather than trying to put another six months into the trail, they added the second dose for all these vaccines within a month."

Dr. Joseph Baisden, Radiation Oncologist

What happens if you miss the recommended timeline for the second vaccine dose?

"We don't know that having the vaccine second dose at three of the four weeks is as critical as it is. Probably just as important it could be done up to six months later with just as much as effectiveness."

Dr. Joseph Baisden, Radiation Oncologist

For a look at the CDC's recommendations on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, click here.

Brandon Lawson

Weekend Meteorologist

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