The CDC released numbers showing that most Americans who get the first of the two-dose coronavirus vaccines are returning to get their booster shot.
According to CDC data, 88% of those who required a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine returned for the second dose. An additional 9% of those who got the first dose can still get the second dose. Although the vaccines are recommended to be spaced 21 to 28 days apart, the second dose can still be administered up to 42 days following the first dose. The CDC said that 3% skipped getting the second dose.
Of everyone who received both COVID-19 doses, 96% did so within the recommended interval.
While public health experts in the US have stressed that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines should come weeks apart, outside the US, some nations have been spacing the doses. In Canada, public health officials there are recommending spacing the two shots four months apart in order to get as many people vaccinated quickly.
“While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection,” Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization said.
The idea of waiting to administer the second dose in order to get more people vaccinated is gaining traction in the US among prominent public health experts.
“I think there is emerging data that is supporting this approach,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “While the most compelling data is to stay on the approved schedule, I do think that delayed second doses are some things that need to be seriously considered.”
While the first shot will offer some protection against the virus, Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a recent CNN interview that the boost will give patients “optimal” protection against the virus.
“What you have is you get some degree, not optimal, but some degree of immunity a couple of weeks after the first dose,” Fauci said. “That's not optimal. After the second dose, you get optimal immunity anywhere from seven to 10 days after the second dose."