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It’s OK to get your 2nd COVID-19 vaccine shot after 21 or 28 days, health officials say

CDC: There is no maximum time between first and second doses for Moderna or Pfizer vaccines

FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2021, file photo a pharmacist draws saline while preparing a dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in Sacramento, Calif. Mutations to the virus are rapidly popping up and the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a variant that can elude current tests, treatments and vaccines could emerge. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, Pool, File)

With the growing number of individuals who have received their first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccine, both of which require a second dose, some might be wondering, “What if I don’t get the second shot exactly 21 or 28 days after my first?”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 1-month interval as possible.” However, there is no maximum time between when you get the first and second doses for either vaccine. The CDC does say people should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.

The Moderna vaccine requires a second shot, or booster, 28 days after the first. The same applies to Pfizer but after 21 days.

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Dr. Raul Pino, of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, addressed this concern Jan. 8 during a coronavirus briefing, saying it’s important for the public to understand that while they must get both shots, there is a grace period.

“There is no limit how far between the first and the second dosage you have to wait. You can wait more than 28 days, you can wait 30 days,” Pino said. “So what I’m trying to say to these people who are going to get very compulsive about being there on the 28th, if your appointment is beyond the 28th day it is absolutely fine.”

Pino said that due to demand some people may receive their follow-up appointment after the 21 or 28 days but, again, “that is absolutely fine.”

What’s important is that everyone who receives either vaccine returns to get their second shot to complete their inoculation against the deadly virus.

Pino said as more people return for their second shot it will provide a logistical challenge, but not one that vaccine sites cannot handle.

“The real challenge is going to be is when we have overlapping dates of first dosage and second dosage,” Pino said. “That’s going to be a little bit of a challenge. That’s why we are moving so fast and rapidly in getting all the sites open in getting all the providers providing those vaccines to have a multiplier effect.”

As of Monday, more than 1 million people in Florida have received at least their first dose and nearly 92,000 have received both doses.

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