Young people should make sure they get their second shot of the 2-dose COVID-19 vaccines, according to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, because it takes both doses to be fully immunized.
“My advice to anyone would be that even if you’re young and there’s evidence that you derive a robust immune response just from that one dose, we don’t know the durability of that response,” Gottlieb, who sits on the board of Pfizer, the manufacturer of one of the authorized 2-dose vaccines, told CNBC. “If you really want to get a durable effect from the vaccine, you really should get the second dose.”
Statistics show over 8% of people are not returning for that second, vital dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, according to The New York Times. That means more than 5 million people have missed their second shot and might not have full immunity against the virus.
“The number of people that so far are not coming back for the second dose is low relative to historical standards or historical norms,” said Gottlieb, who was at the helm of the FDA from 2017-2019 during the Trump administration. He added the return rate for the COVID-19 vaccine is better than for the 2-dose shingles shot.
Gottlieb acknowledged younger individuals have heartier immune systems and might derive sufficient protection with one shot, while older Americans definitely need both doses to drive full immune protection. But the big question is how long the immunity lasts with a single shot.
According to Good Housekeeping, some people might be hesitant to return to get their second shot because they do not want to wait in a long line again, or had a bad reaction to the first shot.
Experts say it is vital for your immunity to complete the vaccination course. Dr. Nicholas Kman, an emergency physician at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, says getting both shots ensures as much immunity as possible against COVID-19. He added there are no clinical studies to show how long partial protection from just 1 dose lasts. Kman said. while both vaccines do provide about 80% protection against a person becoming infected by the virus after the first dose, the second dose increases the number of antibodies in bloodstream tenfold, offering 95% efficacy.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, questions whether one shot of the vaccine can provide long-term immunity, Good Housekeeping reported.
“When you leave it at 1 dose, the question is, how long does immunity last?” he asks. The infectious disease expert warns, with the new B.1.1.7 variant on the scene, “You’re in a tenuous zone if you don’t have full impact.”
Gottlieb praised those administering the COVID-19 vaccines for encouraging recipients to return for their second shot.
“A lot of times it’s just lost to follow-up,” he told CNBC. “It’s not people who are deliberately not coming back. There are some situations, I’ve talked to people, who are worried about the second dose. But right now, the percentage of people who’ve come back for that second shot is pretty high.”
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