Are you also one of those people who are worried over the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines forcing you to wait for the second dose? Are you also wondering if you may need to restart your vaccine schedule because it has already been over a month since your first dose?
Well, you do not need to panic yet as the studies and experts suggest that the booster (second) dose works just fine even if you take it after a gap of 4-5 months from the date of your first jab.
How do the vaccine doses work?
When you take the first dose of any COVID-19 vaccine, it triggers an immune response, which stays active even if you delay your booster dose. It, however, doesn’t work at the optimum level, and that’s why you need the second dose.
The booster dose basically enhances and increases the quality of the first dose response.
The first dose stays inside the body but for a limited period of time. The antibodies produced due to the vaccine are proteins that start degrading after a certain period of time even if they were not used. Hence, the immune response triggered by the first dose starts wearing off after 4-5 months.
Why has the government increased duration between the two doses?
Amid the rising demand and insufficient supply of vaccines, the government has increased the duration between two Covishield doses from 4 to 12 weeks. The decision has been taken after analyzing the data from the international trials, in which the researchers observed the immune response of the inoculated people from the first dose till the booster jab.
The experts also observed that in some cases where the second dose was administered as late as 12 weeks due to trial related issues, the effect was pretty much okay.
What do other experts say?
Some experts believe that from an immunology perspective, researchers always specify a ‘minimum’ internal, not ‘maximum’ between the doses. They believe that any vaccine works better if the gap between the first and the booster dose is slightly longer in most of the cases.
In case of Covaxin, the minimum gap has been mentioned 28 days but a longer gap could amplify the results. Therefore, everyone must get their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine even if it is delayed.
Some experts also recommend that people should not think about taking the first dose again if the booster jab has been delayed. Even in children’s vaccination, the norm is to pick up from where the one left off.
Moreover, even children are not recommended a repeat dose of the same vaccine even if they have a weaker immune response. Hence, it should not be done for COVID vaccination too.
Another expert has claimed that the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, even if delayed, is effective in preventing the infection.
What else do we know?
In the United Kingdom, the recommended gap between the two shots of Covishield is 12 weeks, while Canada has kept it to 16 weeks. A study by Public Health England has proved that the first jab of Covishield is 65 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19, and 80% against a severe form of the disease.
Some experts even recommend that even if a person gets infected after getting the first dose of the vaccine and takes 6-10 weeks to recover, he/she must take the second jab after recovering from the disease.
How can we ensure getting the vaccine in time?
First of all, you should not worry at all about the revision in the vaccination schedule. The decision has been taken after a thorough analysis of every aspect of the efficacy of the doses. Still, if you are unable to get the vaccine at a government-designated center, you can always look for a private vaccination center in your locality and get the vaccine.
The shortage of vaccines may have sparked a wave of fear among the people who have got their first shot of the vaccine, but there isn’t anything to worry about as of now. There would be no need to restart the vaccine schedule even if you have completed 12 weeks from your first dose. Everyone should just focus on getting their second dose as per the government-specified schedule.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.