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Worried About the Delay for 2nd Dose of the COVID Vaccine? Know All About It

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

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 months 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 immune response of the first dose-response. 
Once the first dose of vaccine is taken, our body starts reacting and produces antibodies specific to the vaccine. The amount of time required by the body to produce an immune response may take time, but it triggers the memory cells of the immune system. When the second dose is given the immune response against the vaccine will be much faster and more effective than the first dose. Thus, a delay in the second dose will not harm and does not wear off.

Did you know?

  • Delaying the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by up to 12 to 15 weeks can improve the effectiveness of vaccination programs in reducing infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. source: PLOS Biology
  • The optimal timing for administering the second dose depends on the durability of first-dose efficacy. source: plos.org
  • Delaying the second dose can improve the impact of vaccination programs under certain conditions. source: plos.org
  • The maximum benefits of a DSD strategy can be achieved with a shorter delay in administering the second dose as the daily vaccination rate increases. source: plos.org

Why has the Government Increased the 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 vaccinated 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, the antibodies and immune response from the vaccine were equivalent and comparable.

What Do Other Experts Say?

Some experts believe that from an immunology perspective, researchers always specify a ‘minimum’ interval, 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 cases.

In the case of Covaxin, the minimum gap of 4-6 weeks remains unchanged. In case the vaccine is not available, it can be delayed but has been mentioned for 28 days but everyone must get their second dose of the 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 the COVID vaccination too.

Another expert has claimed that the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, even if delayed, is effective in preventing the infection.

What If You Contract Covid Between Shots?

There have been cases where people contracted covid within a few days or weeks of getting their first dose of COVID vaccination. In case a person contracts the infection very close to getting their second COVID-19 dose, here’s what you should do. Remember that the infection helps the body build certain protective antibodies naturally, but we don’t know for sure how long these antibodies last and hence it is advisable to get the second dose of the vaccine after recovering. 

You must postpone your vaccination by at least 6 weeks after a mild covid infection. Those with a severe form of illness should consider getting a go-ahead from the doctor first. Make sure you recover well but do not miss the vaccine dose as it will add to your immunity and serve additional purposes.

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 3 months of being completely recovered from the illness.

How Can We Ensure Getting the Vaccine in Time?

First of all, you should not worry at all about the revision of 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 centre, you can always look for a private vaccination centre 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 provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

Links and product recommendations in the information provided here are advertisements of third-party products available on the website. PharmEasy does not make any representation on the accuracy or suitability of such products/services. Advertisements do not influence the editorial decisions or content. The information in this blog is subject to change without notice. The authors and administrators reserve the right to modify, add, or remove content without notification. It is your responsibility to review this disclaimer regularly for any changes.



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