San Francisco, CA

Is it OK to get the second COVID-19 vaccine later than recommended?

Ed Walsh

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Health care worker preps a COVID-19 vaccineUniversity of California San Francisco

The San Francisco Bay Area has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country. San Francisco city officials say more than 60% of city residents have gotten at least the first vaccine shot. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two shots to be fully vaccinated. Johnson and Johnson just requires one shot.

Some are asking whether it is okay to wait longer than the recomended two weeks to get the second dose. The University of California San Francisco is weighing in on that question.

"The vaccine supply remains limited throughout Northern California, so at times, not enough doses will be available to provide first doses through our clinics," the teaching and research hospital stated. "When supplies are limited, we’re prioritizing second doses, starting with patients who are approaching or have reached the 42-day recommended time frame after their first dose. Most vaccine sites, including UCSF, require you to get your second dose from the same provider that gave you your first one."

The University of California San Francisco recommendations closely allign with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which states, " The timing between your first and second shots depends on which vaccine you received.

  • If you received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, you should get your second shot 3 weeks (or 21 days) after your first.
  • If you received the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, you should get your second shot 4 weeks (or 28 days) after your first.

"You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 4-week interval as possible. However, your second dose may be given up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose, if necessary. You should not get the second dose early. ​There is currently limited information on the effectiveness of receiving your second shot earlier than recommended or later than 6 weeks after the first shot.

"However, if you do receive your second shot of COVID-19 vaccine earlier or later than recommended, you do not have to restart the vaccine series. This guidance might be updated as more information becomes available.

"Scheduling your second shot

  • Planning for your second shot is important.
  • If you need help scheduling your vaccination appointment for your second shot, contact the location that set up your first appointment.
  • If you are having trouble or have questions about using a vaccination management or scheduling system, reach out to the organization that enrolled you in the system. This may be your state or local health department, employer, or vaccination provider.​
  • Scheduling an appointment for your second shot at the time you get your first shot is recommended, but not required.
  • If you need to get your second shot in a location that is different from where you received your first shot (for example, if you moved to a different state or attend school in a different state), there are several ways you can find a vaccine provider for your second dose."

There has been some reports of people who have not shown up for their second vaccine shot. Some fear side effects but experts caution that the risks of contracting COVID-19 outweigh the risks of the vaccine.

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