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Why it’s crucial to get your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine
27 Jan' 21

Why it’s crucial to get your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

 

Experts say that it’s important for people to follow through with second doses of their COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one can be considered “fully vaccinated” only after they take the second dose of the vaccine.
 
According to AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria, the first dose of the vaccine does not produce protective immunity but prepares the immune system to fight against COVID-19 infection.
 
The first dose does not produce protective immunity but prepares the immune system to fight against COVID-19 infection. It is the second dose that triggers the immune system to produce a large number of antibodies, resulting in cell-mediated immunity. It also stimulates the memory cells so that the body remembers this injection for the long term and helps produce antibodies quickly in case of reinfection.
 
Both doses of the vaccine are therefore essential to get maximum protection from COVID-19.
 
Here are some FAQ's about the second dose:
 
1. When should you take the 2nd dose?
In general, a gap of a minimum of 28 days is suggested between two doses of Covid-19 vaccines. But for Covishield, the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and produced in India by Pune's Serum Institute, the gap has been revised based on "emerging scientific evidence". When India started the vaccination drive in January, the recommended gap was four to six weeks. In March, the gap period was revised and extended to four to eight weeks. Now the expert group has again recommended widening the gap to 12 to 16 weeks. Once the recommendation is accepted, the Centre will inform the states and the UTs accordingly. Till then, the existing gap will continue to be followed.
 
2. Why does the gap matter?
Studies have revealed that Covishield works better when the two doses are spaced apart. The Lancet, in February, said, Covishield's effectiveness increases by over 26 per cent if the doses are spaced 12 or more weeks apart. Reports said the gap has been again revised based on practical evidence reported in the UK.
 
3. Why is the gap between the two doses of Covaxin not revised?
According to experts, Covaxin has been developed in a different way. It is an inactivated vaccine, which contains a "dead virus, incapable of infecting people but still able to instruct the immune system to mount a defensive action against an infection". There is no data on whether the effectiveness increases if the gap is widened as during the trial, everyone was given the second dose after 28 days. Hence, its two doses are given 28 days apart and no change has been suggested to this gap.
 
4. When to take the 1st dose if you have already been infected once?
According to the existing protocol, one can take the vaccine four to eight weeks after recovering from Covid-19. Under its new recommendations, the expert group has suggested that one can defer vaccination for six months after recovery. But it is applicable to only those having laboratory tests proven SARS-CoV-2 illness. It is not clear what Covid suspect patients should do as doctors are starting treatment if the symptoms are present, without waiting for test results.

5. What to do if one gets infected after the first dose of the vaccine?
Such people should wait for 4-8 weeks after recovery from the illness for their second dose, the new recommendations of the expert panel said.

6. What if you miss the date of your second dose of vaccination because the vaccination centre has run out of stock?
Several doctors are of the opinion that a little delay in the second dose won't make much difference but it should not be skipped as both doses ensure full protection from the virus.
 
7. Can patients who have been treated with plasma take the vaccine? When should they take the 1st dose?
According to the government expert panel, those who have been treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma may defer their first dose for three months after getting discharged from the hospital.

 

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