What Happens If You Miss the Second Dosage of COVID-19 Vaccine?
The news about shortage of Covishield and Covaxin vaccine, which are meant for preventing the COVID-19 infection, has made people in India worried. However, experts say that even if a person fails to take the second dose of the vaccine within suggested time interval, a he/she should get the second dosage at least within a year.
From the time when news about the shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine hit the headlines of many Indian newspapers, people who took the first dose of the vaccine started worrying. The two vaccines that are available in India—Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India and Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech—have different dosage intervals. In the case of Covaxin, the time interval between its two dosages should be 28 days; whereas, for Covishield the time interval between two dosages should be 4 to 8 weeks.
But what happens if you fail to take the second dosage within the stipulated period? Here’s what experts have stated about the consequences of missing the second dosage of these two vaccines.
1. Dr Jacob John: The Head of the Indian Council for Medical Research’s (ICMR) Centre for Advanced Research
“If a person happens to skip the second dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine, the effect of the first dosage also gets vanished, thus living you prone to get infected with the COVID-19 virus.”
“The first dosage does not build strong resistance. In many people what it merely does is priming i.e. it prepares the person’s body for the second dose. The second dosage is basically the injection of a live virus into the body that is closely similar to the original COVID-19 virus. This dosage further boosts the primed immune system. After the second dose, the person’s body is fully secured and have maximum protection against the virus. So, in case, if a person misses the second dose, then he/she might get infected with the virus as his/her body is only primed, not boosted. However, the priming done by first dose has the potential to last for nearly one year. So, if the person takes the second dose within a year, it will still boost the immune system.”
“But within that period of one year, the body still remains vulnerable to the disease as the person has not yet taken the second booster dosage. If a person exceeds even the period of one year after the first dosage, it is ideal to take the complete set of course again.”
2. Dr Aju Mathew: Epidemiologist, Oncologist, And Hematologist and an attending physician at the National Cancer Institute-designated Markey Cancer Center of the University of Kentucky.
“At present, there is no precise and evident data on the effectiveness of the first dosage of the vaccine. Moreover, the researches so far have revealed vague results on the level of immunity retained if the second dose is delayed more than the stimulated interval. The effectiveness of the first dosage can be derived only theoretically, if the second dosage is not taken on time. However, getting vaccinated is still much better than not getting vaccinated at all. As a result, it is vital for all nations across the world to join forces and make sure that every part of the world obtains an adequate amount of vaccines. The earlier the world gets vaccinated, the more chances are that the pandemic ends sooner.”
3. Dr. KP Aravindan: A member of the expert panel of COVID-19 constituted by the state government of Kerala
“Even if the second dosage of Covishield vaccine is not taken within 8 to 12 weeks after the first dosage, it will not harm the person. It will impact the effectiveness of the vaccine to a certain extent; however, this fact is still under research. Currently, there is no data to say precisely about it.”
4. Dr Asha Kishore: A senior Neurologist at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST)
“Hypothetically speaking one needs to take the complete course again if the second dosage is not taken within the specified time interval. The Union government must make available the distribution of the vaccine free of cost so that any person can afford to get vaccinated. Also, private hospitals should provide vaccination at a sensible price—if it is made available free of cost in government hospitals—so that needful can get vaccinated from government hospitals.”
The Bottom Line
One has to understand that COVID-19 vaccines are disease-modifying vaccines. Both Covishield as well as Covaxin do not prevent you from getting infected, but they safeguard a person from any severe impacts of the COVID-19 disease. To be precise, the vaccines only make a person strong and capable enough to bear the harshness of the disease and battle it without getting much affected. If a person gets infected after taking both dosages of any of the vaccines, there is no requirement for revaccination. The vaccine will show its effectiveness and reduce the severity of the COVID-19 symptoms. To sum up, even if the second dose of the vaccine is not taken within suggested time interval, it is advisable for a person to get the second dosage at least within a year.
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