Health officials stress importance of COVID-19 vaccine second dose

Health officials stress importance of COVID-19 vaccine second dose

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said that as of Friday, South Carolina has received a little over 542,000 doses of the vaccine.

Officials said about 246,000 have been administered, and nearly 300,000 appointments are scheduled in the coming weeks. However, as appointments are getting booked up for the coming weeks to months, getting an appointment for the second dose is proving difficult for some in South Carolina.

DHEC’s Interim Director Dr. Brannon Traxler said if you’re having difficulty getting an appointment, contact your provider that you got your first dose from. She stressed that it’s critical for everyone to get that second dose to have optimal protection from COVID-19. She said one dose potentially gives partial immunity, but they don’t how much or how long it would last.

“We know that one dose basically primes your immune system,” Traxler said. “So, it gets it ready and starts developing some immunity, but it’s really in that second dose that you see it kick into overdrive and start producing that immunity. So, that’s the booster dose basically.”

Traxler said getting the second dose as close to the 21- to 28-day window depending on which vaccine you get is optimal.

“There is still data that’s being collected about how long you can go between them,” Traxler said. “I do encourage folks to get their second dose as close to that appropriate time, either 21 days for Pfizer or 28 days for Moderna as possible.”

The CDC released new guidance Thursday on this, saying they recommend getting the second dose as close to the recommended internal as possible but, “if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose.”

“What the CDC is saying is sometimes the situation is stressed where it’s very difficult to be exactly on time,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said. “We’re saying you could probably do it six weeks later, namely two additional weeks.”

Traxler recommended having the second appointment on the books before leaving your first vaccination appointment but said if you’re having trouble, get as close to the three- to four-week window as possible.

“Certainly getting it at some point is better than getting it at no point,” Traxler said.

Traxler said there shouldn’t be any shortage of the vaccine when it comes to administering second doses, saying that the state is getting a separate shipment of second dose allotments each week.

Traxler also gave an update during Friday’s media briefing on the expansion of Group 1A to parents caring for medically fragile or severely disabled children. She said DHEC is developing screening tools and will give more specifics in the near future in terms of how a caregiver qualifies in this group of Phase 1A.

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