Welcome to COVID Questions, TIME’s recommendation column. We’re attempting to make dwelling by way of the pandemic a bit simpler, with expert-backed solutions to your hardest coronavirus-related dilemmas. Whereas we are able to’t and don’t supply medical recommendation—these questions ought to go to your physician—we hope this column will show you how to type by way of this anxious and complicated time. Acquired a query? Write to us at [email protected]time.com.

Right this moment, W.S. in Florida asks:

I bought my first Pfizer vaccine in January. Is it too late to get the second injection now, greater than two months later? What ought to I do?

The second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine ought to ideally be given three weeks after the primary. (Moderna’s second dose is supposed to be given 4 weeks after the primary, whereas the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen shot is delivered in a single dose.) However, properly, generally life will get in the best way. So what occurs if you happen to don’t make it to that second appointment?

Schedule one other one as quickly as you may, says Dr. Adam Ratner, a pediatric infectious illness physician at NYU Langone Well being and a vaccine researcher.

Whereas a three- or four-week hole between pictures is good, the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) says you will get your second shot inside 42 days of the primary one and nonetheless mount a full immune response. “Past that, we begin to function in an space the place there’s merely much less knowledge,” Ratner says.

That doesn’t imply your second shot will likely be ineffective if it’s given greater than six weeks after the primary. It solely implies that research haven’t particularly measured how a lot safety the two-dose vaccines supply when the pictures are given greater than 42 days aside. Nonetheless, the CDC says you don’t have to begin over if you happen to can’t get a second vaccine inside 42 days. International locations together with the U.Okay. are even purposely delaying second pictures to allow them to get first doses out to extra folks, and a few consultants within the U.S. advocate for a similar coverage.

Ratner says if he had been in your footwear, he wouldn’t fear an excessive amount of. “I might say get the second dose now and think about your self absolutely vaccinated,” he says. Simply be sure you get a second dose of the identical vaccine, for the reason that CDC doesn’t suggest mixing and matching with completely different pictures.

It could be tempting to only persist with the one dose you’ve bought—in spite of everything, one latest research confirmed {that a} single dose of the vaccine was about 80% efficient at stopping COVID-19 infections, in comparison with 90% safety after two doses. However “it’s considerably of a tenuous 80%,” Nationwide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Ailments Director Dr. Anthony Fauci stated at a latest press briefing. “If you depart it at one dose, the query is, ‘How lengthy does it final?’”

To get the vaccine’s full advantages, and to verify they final so long as attainable, you’ll want a second shot.

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