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St. Joseph Health: No reason to worry if second vaccine dose comes a couple weeks late

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 10:53 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - St. Joseph Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kia Parsi says research shows people still develop a strong immunity to COVID-19 even if their second dose of the vaccine comes roughly 14 days later than what’s recommended.

There have been concerns from those who have already received their first dose of the vaccine about when they can get their second one. The Brazos County vaccine hub at the Brazos Center had to push back those appointments by a week because the winter storms delayed second dose shipments.

Parsi says people shouldn’t be worried about having to wait a little bit longer for their second shot. As a matter of fact, experts say there’s actually more of a concern about getting that second dose too early as opposed to too late.

”The research has shown up to 42 days later, they evaluated individuals, and they still developed really strong immunity,” Parsi said. “There’s not as much research after 42 days, but if someone gets the vaccine on day 43 or day 44, we don’t have a lot of evidence, but we would expect you still get really strong immunity.”

Parsi also says there is really no set of circumstances that should discourage anyone from refusing a second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. If someone just gets the first dose, he says, they develop some immunity, but it’s probably only about half as effective.

“The recommendation is to get both doses to have the most effective immunity that you can achieve from the vaccine,” Parsi said. “It’s a very effective vaccine. If you get both doses, the studies show about 95% effectiveness to prevent any symptoms of COVID-19.”

The world is very lucky to have effective vaccines within 12 months of the start of the pandemic, Parsi says. He references studies in the British Isles that show even vaccinating a small percentage of the population decreases hospitalizations and symptomatic disease.

“At the end of this week, around 23,000 people will have been vaccinated through the St. Joseph system,” Parsi said. “Of course, we want to vaccinate everybody who is eligible and willing to take the vaccine, but these first steps will make a difference.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is expected to be grant emergency use authorization by the FDA in the coming days, will also go a long way in the fight against the virus. Not only is it a positive to have another viable vaccine option, but this particular tool has been called a “game-changer” because it only requires a single dose.

“Having a vaccine that’s just one dose is just easier to do,” Parsi said. “We’re looking forward to having more and more vaccines, and that will just increase our resources and capabilities to fight this pandemic.”

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