Saddle Up And Get The Second Shot––What The Experts Say About Skipping It

by Nikkya Hargrove
Originally Published: 
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In two weeks, I will receive my second Pfizer COVID vaccination. I was on the fence when the vaccines became available about whether or not I’d get one at all. The more people I spoke with, the more they reminded me that this is part of the process … just like what others had to endure when the flu shot became a thing. So, I put my big girl panties on, stopped watching nurses and other medical professionals jabbing people on the news, and waited for my turn to get the shot. Now, I just look at it as if I am actually downing a gin and tonic; after the first one goes down, why stop? And this is how I am approaching the COVID vaccination — why stop at one? If you’re on the fence about getting your next shot, don’t be. Do it.

We all laughed (at least I hope we all laughed) at the insanity that was former President Donald Trump when he suggested that we drink bleach to protect against getting COVID-19. Did anybody drink bleach? (Well, these two guys did apparently, but that’s for another story.) Getting the second shot of your Pfizer or Moderna vaccination means that we all will be closer to herd immunity.

What’s herd immunity, you ask? Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, explained it like this: “Herd immunity is the point where there’s enough people that have been either infected or vaccinated that you basically can’t sustain transmission in the community. And if one case leads to less than one new infection, then eventually it peters out.”

Dr. Fauci also weighed in, stating in The New York Times, “That’s why we stopped using herd immunity in the classic sense,” he added. “I’m saying: Forget that for a second. You vaccinate enough people, the infections are going to go down.”

Moral of the story is, get both of your shots. The more people who are vaccinated, the more people who can stop the spread of the virus.

Sure, the side effects of the second shot can suck. You may get a low-grade fever, perhaps even the shits, but at least you are protecting yourself and others. Getting COVID sucks wayyyy more than having the shits for 24 hours. That you can handle with saltines and Campbell’s soup. So, save yourself the headache and the potential of death knocking at your door earlier than expected, and get yo’ second shot. Don’t be part of the 5 million people who opted in for shot number one and opted out of shot number two.

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Why are so many folks peacing out before getting their second dose? There are several reasons, according to The New York Times. People are scared of the side effects – especially if they had adverse reactions after the first shot — or forget to make their second appointment within the 21 or 28 day window. Sometimes there’s an issue with pharmacies’ stock in vaccines; maybe some received Pfizer the first time around and now the same location only has Moderna. In the case of college students, some are leaving campus between the time of the first and second vaccine. Or people just get overconfident in their single dose, simply thinking one shot is surely enough. It is not.

Infectious disease specialist with the University of Chicago Medicine, Dr. Emily Landon, told CBS News that our country’s progress in combating COVID could “absolutely regress” if not enough people get their second shot. “Not getting your second shot means you’re kind of giving up on your immunity. And you may be at risk for COVID as soon as a few months after that first vaccine. Secondly, you have way lower immunity to all of the variants that are the predominant things that are circulating right now,” she warned.

If the number of people who don’t get the second shot continues to increase, we will never reach herd immunity, or even come close to it, and infection rates will continue to increase. To be “fully vaccinated” means that you’ve received both shots. To be “fully vaccinated” means that your defenses are stronger, and your body can fight off COVID, should you get it, better than if you only had one dose of the vaccine.

On Facebook, the Friendly Neighbor Epidemiologist advised to think of the vaccination like this: “The 1st dose primed and the 2nd dose sustained. Think of this like painting a wall in your home — primer (1st dose) gets the wall ready for the real paint (2nd dose) to last on your wall.”

If you made the decision to get the first shot, keep up the momentum and get the second. If you haven’t had any vaccine at all and would rather only commit to one shot, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is once again in the clear and available to the public. If you’re the person who opted to protect yourself and commit to the Pfizer or Moderna shot, you now need to saddle up and finish the job. According to the CDC, the Moderna vaccine is 94.1% effective after you receive both doses and the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective. Take those odds. And if you’ve missed the 21 or 28-day window by a couple of days, never fear; the CDC says that you can wait up to 42 days – that’s six weeks! — between doses and still reap the benefits of immunity.

Don’t be a party pooper; keep the momentum going and get that second jab. We are all counting on you to do so.

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