COVID-19 vaccines have been rolling out to Americans since late 2020, with over 40 million people having received their first dose by February 2021. This progress is exciting, but it’s important to remember that two doses per person is the goal for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines currently available in the United States. Two doses taken about a month apart are supposed to provide the highest chance of immunity from severe symptoms of the virus.
So, what happens if you miss your second COVID vaccine dose? There’s some debate among doctors and researchers about whether or not missing the second dose of these specific vaccines would be problematic.
MSN recently asked four medical experts what health risks they thought missing a second dose of these COVID-19 vaccines would cause, if any at all.
6. Immunologist Dr. David Lo
At the University of California, Dr. David Lo is a distinguished professor and immunologist in the Division of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Lo explained that though there would be some protective immunity from COVID-19 with only one vaccine dose, the full immunity potential would require both doses taken about 30 days apart.
However, he does feel that having only one vaccine dose could still be beneficial in reducing the severity of COVID symptoms. One dose would still “give the immune system a bit of a head start.”
5. Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Rebecca Wurtz
Along with her role as an infectious disease physician, Dr. Rebecca Wurtz is a public health expert with the University of Minnesota. Dr. Wurtz strongly recommends receiving the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID vaccines, but says if there’s a slight delay in receiving the second shot that’s probably fine. If your second dose is a few days or even up to a few weeks late, Dr. Wurtz thinks you will still have a high percentage of immunity once the second dose takes effect.
“I’d make a distinction between the initial dosing schedule (2 doses given a few weeks apart for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) and a ‘booster’ dose, which is usually given at a much later date to boost the waning immune response to the initial vaccine series,” Dr. Wurtz told MSN.
Wurtz thinks COVID booster shots will likely someday “become routine” but are not meant to be replacements for the initial two doses. Booster vaccines are given at calculated stages to keep virus immunity intact. For example, it’s recommended that people receive a tetanus booster shot every 10 years after the initial vaccine.