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Doctors emphasize importance of getting 2nd COVID-19 vaccine shot

Full efficacy not reached until 2 weeks after 2nd shot
Posted at 4:27 PM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 18:10:37-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As more adults start making appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine, doctors say it's important to remember that immunity does not happen right away.


Along Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach, there may be a sense that life is slowly returning to normal.

Fred Schneider, who is visiting West Palm Beach from Cooperstown, New York, admits he started to feel it right after getting his first vaccine shot.

"I did feel ... a lot of emancipation with the first shot," Schneider said.

Fred Schneider
Fred Schneider, an upstate New York resident, visited West Palm Beach after receiving two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The feeling of freedom was even greater after he and his wife got their second shots.

"Now the second shot, which was two days ago, it's like, 'It's over. I'm done,'" Schneider said.

That feeling of finality may be a little premature said Dr. Larry Bush, an infectious disease specialist and vaccine investigator based in Wellington.

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"You build up these antibodies over a slow period of time," Bush said.

In the case of Moderna and Pfizer, which require two vaccine shots, many are still vulnerable to COVID-19 after the first dose.

Bush said that was proven in the date from the vaccine trial with Pfizer.

"In their trial of about 40,000 people, the chance of getting COVID between dose one and dose two, the effectiveness was around 52 percent," Bush said.

Dr. Larry Bush
Dr. Larry Bush says it is important to still get the second dose for those getting the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC reported last week that the first doses of the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines were 80 percent effective at preventing infection.

The effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines reach full efficacy as much as two weeks after the second dose and with Johnson & Johnson's single-dose it's four weeks.

If anyone happens to miss their appointment for the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, Bush said it's still OK and just as effective to get that second shot as much as a month and a half later.