Why Getting the 2nd COVID Shot Matters & New Mask-Free Things Fully Vaccinated Can Do

The Doctors

Have you received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but have either missed or skipped your second shot?

The New York Times reports roughly 8 percent of people (which translates to over 5 million!) who got the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine have not got a second shot. The CDC says the first shot is 80 percent effective at preventing COVID, but after the second dose, it rises to around 90 percent effective.

But health experts stress it is not just about that 10 percent increase and say the second shot is crucial.

“The second dose of mRNA vaccines induces a level of virus-neutralizing antibodies about 10-fold greater than the first dose,” Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel, tells the NYT. “Also, the second dose induces cellular immunity, which predicts not only longer protection but better protection against variant strains.”

Additionally, if you do not get your second shot, you will not be fully vaccinated, which may complicate and limit the things you can do and the places you go. There is reported speculation that traveling will eventually require being fully vaccinated or visiting certain locales like a workplace might require it.

So what can you do if you missed your second dose?

- The CDC says the time between your first and second dose can be up to 6 weeks and the NYT advises, "Whatever the timing, doctors advise you to get your second dose, even if more time than recommended has passed since your first dose."

- If you cannot return to the location of your first shot, try doing a walk-in at any location giving vaccines, and be sure to bring your vaccination card  

- If the possible side effects of the second dose are causing you to skip the second dose, all health experts stress things like fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and fever are common and usually short-lived  

- Find out what the CDC recommends doing if you had a severe allergic reaction to the first dose and what to if you had a non-severe allergic reaction    

Additionally, the CDC announced new guidelines for mask-wearing and what is considered safe for those who are fully vaccinated.

The health agency announced, "You can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic" and, "You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance."

Masks are still required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation and airports and stations, along with hospitals and congregate care settings such as jails or homeless shelters. The Doctors note these are federal guidelines but your state, county, or city may still have mask mandates, and everyone still needs to follow the safety guidance at your workplace and local businesses.

Still confused or unsure about what someone who is fully vaccinated can now do? The CDC has updated its "Choosing Safer Activities" guidance

Safer CDC

More: COVID-19's Lasting Effect on Survivor's Body

More: How to Keep Your Most Prized COVID Vaccine Card Safe!

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