If you have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, make sure you get the second, experts are stressing, even if you are concerned about the possible side effects following the second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccine, both of which require two doses.
While those who have received the first dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer jabs have some level of immunity against the novel coronavirus, people are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks following their second dose. Both vaccines are considered about 95% effective in preventing a symptomatic coronavirus infection following the second dose, and, at this time, immunity for both vaccines is thought to last for at least six months.
But questions remain around what possible impact on immunity receiving just one dose could have.
"When you just leave it at one dose, the question is, how long does it last? And when you're dealing with variants, you're in a tenuous zone," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Insitute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), recently said.
Speaking to a local news station, Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the vaccine education center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, urged patients to receive the second dose, adding that vaccines "are the only way out of this pandemic."
"Although it's true the second dose can cause fatigue and fever and headache and muscle ache, it is a small price to pay to be protected against this disease for a more durable or longer length period of time," Offit said. "Vaccines are the only way out of this pandemic and we are not going to get out of this pandemic unless we have at least 80% population immunity."
"You owe it to yourself and everyone you come in contact with to get this vaccine," he added.
The news comes as public health experts have warned of a fourth coronavirus surge even amid the country’s vaccination effort. Last week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a White House briefing warned of "impending doom" amid a recent increase in coronavirus cases and related hospitalizations. Walensky appeared to hold back tears as she expressed concerns the U.S. could soon bear witness to a fourth surge — even as the country has averaged some 2.7 million daily vaccinations over the past week alone.
"Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth and I have to hope and trust you will listen," Walensky continued. "I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope, but right now, I'm scared… please hold on a little while longer."
But some experts disagree. The former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for instance, also said last week that the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine could provide a "pretty big backstop" against a fourth coronavirus surge.
"We've now vaccinated 92 million Americans. It's about 28% of the public. About 50 million have been fully vaccinated, that's 15%," Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s said. "So, I think that's a pretty big backstop against a true fourth surge."
"I think the Biden administration can allocate to parts of the country that look hot right now," he continued. "But if we could just get two or three more weeks of around 3 million vaccines a day, that's going to be a pretty big backstop."
Experts now have real-world evidence of what protections the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines provide. The vaccines, both created using mRNA technology, are "highly effective" in tamping down infections, including asymptomatic cases, according to findings from the CDC.
The federal health agency examined results from a real-world vaccine rollout among nearly 4,000 at-risk essential workers, like health care staff and first responders, across six states from Dec. 14 to March 13, 2021.
Results indicated a 90% drop in infection risk after participants were fully vaccinated, i.e. two weeks after they received second jabs developed by Pfizer or Moderna. The findings also underscored a high level of protection after just a single dose; participants’ risk of infection was cut by 80% two weeks after their initial vaccination.
The findings were consistent with results from clinical trials conducted prior to the vaccines receiving emergency authorizations from the FDA, the CDC said.
Fox News' Kayla Rivas contributed to this report.