Health officials say there is 'wiggle room' in timing between first and second COVID vaccine doses

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 18:19:49-05

Between the COVID-19 vaccines' two required doses, the clock is ticking.

Food and Drug Administration guidance indicates the vaccine's second dose should be administered three to four weeks after the initial dose, but Tri-State health officials and experts said there is no guarantee there will be enough supply to meet that timetable for the thousands who have already received their first dose.

"You're going to have a little competition for that seat," said Dr. O'Dell Owens, CEO of Interact for Health.

According to the FDA, an individual is 95% protected from contracting the disease if the Pfizer vaccine's second dose comes 21 days after the first; for the Moderna vaccine, that time period is 28 days. But with demand outpacing supply, clinics aren't giving vaccine recipients guarantees about when they can get the second dose.

Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said there is some wiggle room.

"If you can't get your dose for a week later or even a couple weeks later, it is acceptable still to get your second dose," he told WCPO.

But he also added there is still uncertainty swirling around the vaccine.

"Unfortunately, all of the vaccine that's currently available has not been studied long enough to know all of the ins and outs of how the vaccine works," he said.

For people like Dorothy Darden, who feel hesitant about getting the vaccine, Kesterman said they have options.

"I really want to discuss it with my doctor more before I would even determine that I would to get it," Darden said.

Kesterman said, for now, the county is capable of administering second doses to county taxpayers who might have received their first dose elsewhere, but they have to register to do so.

Researchers expect vaccine supply to spike as soon as next month when a third vaccine, under development by Johnson & Johnson gets approval and begins distribution.