PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — If you’ve received your first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you probably made an appointment to get the second shot. But some people here in Virginia, and several million around the country, have not followed through.
Why? And what are the consequences if you don’t get the second dose?
One doctor in Virginia says it’s because the people are having a strong response to the first vaccination.
“If you had a really bad reaction to the first shot, I’m seeing a lot of people who’ve already had COVID-19, and didn’t know about it, get the first shot, and have a strong response,” said Dr. Aaron Hartman of the Virginia Research Center in Richmond.
But Hartman says a strong reaction to the first vaccine doesn’t mean a person shouldn’t get their second.
Hartman is board-certified in Family Medicine, Integrative and Holistic Medicine and Certified in Functional Medicine with Richmond Integrative and Functional Medicine. Hartman, along with a team of physicians at Virginia Research Center in Richmond, is conducting clinical trials on the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine. They’ve given the shot to hundreds of volunteers, beginning last summer.
Again, Hartman says the reason for a strong first-dose response could be that the patient already has antibodies fighting the virus — but they’d need an antibody test to determine that.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, experts do not yet know how long you’re protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The agency says for most people, getting covid should not impact when they get their shot. The exception is for those who were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma — they should wait 90 days before getting a vaccine.
Although the first shot of the vaccine offers about 80% efficacy, the CDC recommends getting the second within three to six weeks.
Another impact if you blow off the second shot: it could get wasted. Demand is down.
“Once you get the first shot, they’re already prepping for the second one. And, if you pull out a day or two later, that shot gets wasted,” he said.
Lines outside vaccination centers have shrunk to the point there is no waiting at many sites.
Hartman still recommends his patients get the second vaccination because the virus is still out there and new, stronger versions of it are developing. And with a population of 330 million people, he said that would leave a lot of room for infection and serious illness.
So, if you have a bad reaction to the first Pfizer or Moderna shot, and fear the second, he suggests going to your primary care physician and getting advice.
For those that do contract COVID-19, Hartman said most patients he’s seen that have severe reactions to COVID-19 have also had low levels of vitamin D and Zinc. That’s been especially true in African American, Hispanic and elderly people. He recommends healthy eating, minimizing processed food, exercise and sunlight.