As more COVID-vaccines are administered, some patients are experiencing vaccine hesitancy when getting their second shot—if they received either Pfizer or Moderna. Whether their concerns are motivated by side effects, access to their second appointment, or fear of missing work—patients must know how the importance of receiving their second or “booster” dose is to efficacy.
Read more for common questions, concerns, responses, and supporting information you can leverage during these types of conversations with patients.
Concerns about missing work
While people learn more about potential side effects after their second dose of one of the COVID-vaccines, some are additionally concerned this may mean a lost day of work without pay, driving reluctance. Although the latest COVID relief bill from Congress supports sick leave for vaccination, it isn’t mandatory. It is essential patients know that no matter someone else’s side effects, every person reacts differently—and side effects are a normal sign that proves your body is building protection.
Although it’s best to avoid any preventative medication before your vaccination, the CDC says that patients can take over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines, for any pain and discomfort after getting vaccinated, as long as they have no other medical reasons that would prevent them from taking these medications. Patients should also remember to drink plenty of fluids and eat well to stay strong against and fight off vaccine side effects—such as malaise, fatigue, nausea, and fever which may prompt patients to reduce their intake. They can also apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over where they got the injection to minimize any pain—and exercise their arm post-vaccination.
You can also download the CDC’s printable handouts below, detailing what your patients can expect after getting the COVID-19 vaccine:
The second dose gets patients to the maximum level of protection
While the first shots provide some protection level, you need both doses to attain the maximum protection level against COVID-19. Although one dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines was shown 80% effective in preventing COVID-19 in a study by the CDC—that number jumped to 90% effective just two weeks after the second dose. Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “When you leave it at one dose, the question is how long does it last?” Maximum protection is especially critical as we fight against new COVID-19 strains.
Dr. Paul Offit, a voting member of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, reviewed Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines for emergency use authorization. He maintained that studies show immunity strengthens after the second dose, which means longer-lasting protection. In a CNBC interview, Dr. Offit shared that immunity strengthens after the second dose, becoming more long-lasting and durable. He added, “the two-dose vaccine regimen also produces ten times the amount of neutralizing antibodies, which play an important role in fighting the virus, from the first to the second dose. Secondly, and more importantly, scientists also detected so-called T cells after the second dose, another important part of the immune response that usually provides longer-lasting immunity.” The recommended interval between doses is 21 days for Pfizer-BioNTech and 28 days for Moderna. However, up to 42 days between doses is permissible when a delay is unavoidable.
Please continue to visit our dedicated vaccine resource page for more information you can share with patients.