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COVID-19 Q&A: Getting the second dose of the vaccine

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 7:21 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2021 at 7:33 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As Alaskans continue to navigate life during the COVID-19 pandemic, Alaska’s News Source is committed to answering your questions, which can be sent to questions@ktuu.com.

Question:

“It is my understanding that two shots are required for the vaccine to be effective. There is talk about a shortage beginning in February. My question is what happens if there is no vaccine available in February for the second shot? Does the vaccine become ineffective without the second shot? Does the two shot process have to start over again?” - Frank

Answer:

State health officials say the vaccine is effective a couple of weeks after the second dose is administered. It depends on whether the recipient got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine; the interval for the Pfizer vaccine is 21 days, for Moderna, it’s 28 days.

For now, the federal government is sending the state’s designated second doses separately.

“When we say we have a certain number of doses coming into the state for January, that’s just first doses in our mind, like the second dose is just taken care of, because we know it’s going to come in, it’s going to come in on a different timeline, we’re not going to allocate that because we know exactly where that’s going,” said Tessa Walker Linderman, co-lead of Alaska’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. “So when you hear us talking about doses, we’re pretty much always talking about first doses, just because we know that that second dose is accounted for and we know where it’s going.”

Providers are asked to make an appointment for individuals for their second shot at the time they receive their first. The information is entered into a statewide database and shows officials when the second dose is due. The state is also looking into setting up text message reminders or other alerts, to help Alaskans remember to get their second shot.

If an individual misses receiving the second dose in the recommended 21- or 28-day timeframe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is not a need to start the series over but encourages people to get the second dose as soon as possible.

State health officials have said they do not know yet how many doses of the vaccine Alaska will receive in February, but that the shipment will include first doses for more people to start the two-shot vaccine series.

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