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Skipped your 2nd shot? It's not too late

A hand with a pencil circles a date on a calendar. Illustration.

The COVID-19 vaccine is your best shot for fighting the virus. But if you only got the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you might be missing out on all the benefits. To gain the best protection from those vaccines, you need two shots.

Life gets busy, though, and sometimes taking time away from work or home becomes difficult. An illness might have interrupted your plans, or concern about side effects may have kept you from scheduling your second shot. Whatever your reason, there's good news: It's not too late to go back for your second shot now.

Better late than never

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting your second shot three weeks after the first for Pfizer or four weeks after the first for Moderna. But CDC also says it's OK to get the second shot up to six weeks later. Information is limited on the effectiveness of receiving the second shot more than six weeks after the first dose, CDC says.

Here's why it's important to go for that second shot:

  • The second shot may give your immunity a boost. CDC reported in March that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were about 80% effective at preventing infection after one shot, but 90% effective after two.
  • It may help you fight off variants. With new, more contagious variants like Delta on the rise, every bit of extra protection helps.

Keep in mind that the side effects of a shot are mostly mild and short-lived. Not everyone gets side effects. But those who do usually feel better in a day or two. Getting COVID-19, on the other hand, can be a lot more disruptive and dangerous.

Ready, set, go!

When you got your first shot, you should have received a vaccination card. It will say which vaccine you received and when you received it. If you lost your card or didn't get one, you can contact the vaccine provider or your state health department to replace it.

You can schedule your second shot at the same place you got your first or go somewhere else. The important thing is to get the same type of vaccine as your first shot.

Don't forget to bring your card. Your provider will update it to show that you got both doses. You'll be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second shot.

Want to know more about protecting yourself from COVID-19? Check out our Coronavirus topic center.

Reviewed 11/4/2021

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