Fact or fiction: Do you really need that second COVID-19 vaccine dose?

PITTSBURGH — A growing number of people are skipping their second dose of the COVID vaccine, thinking just some protection is enough.

Others who get the shot wonder whether it’s actually working if they don’t have a reaction.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer about 80% protection after the first dose and some think that’s good enough, even though that protection jumps to 95% after the second shot.

Channel 11′s Angie Moreschi asked the head of prevention at UPMC, Dr. Graham Snyder, if one dose is enough to provide sufficient protection.

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He said that the stronger protection you get from the second dose makes it very important.

“Preventing you from getting sick, preventing you from having serious complications, and for preventing you from being contagious. I wouldn’t risk being heavy partial protection against all three of those with only one dose, even if one dose  gets you a good part of the way to that.”

There’s also growing debate over people who have already had COVID-19: could one shot be enough for them, since they already have some antibodies?

“It’s kind of like being re-exposed to an infection like influenza. It just is a way to remind our immune system again that it should be prepared for this virus,” Snyder said.

So Snyder says that assumption is false. You should stick to the plan and get the second dose, which gives you longer-lasting and more durable immunity.

Another concern 11 Investigates is hearing is that if you get the vaccine, but don’t have any symptoms, does that mean it didn’t work as well?

When it comes to symptoms, some people just get a sore arm, while others experience much more severe symptoms like fever, aches and fatigue.

“That spectrum of response to the vaccine is normal. The vaccine is highly effective whether you have no symptoms after the vaccine or you have some of the symptoms that could occur,” Snyder added.

This means that this concern is also false; if you’re healthy and don’t have symptoms when you get the vaccine, research shows it is still working.

One more question is, can the vaccine cause a false positive on your mammogram?

Some women are experiencing swollen lymph nodes in their underarms when they get the vaccine, which does go away.

But because swollen lymph nodes can also be a sign of cancer, it can create some confusion on a mammogram.

“When they do the mammogram or the chest CT, they could see those lymph nodes and not be able to tell the difference between vaccine or cancer. So the way to avoid that would be to wait a few weeks after your vaccine before you do the cancer screening,” Snyder said, meaning that is concern is valid.

Still, he emphasizes it is very important for women to get their mammograms, but just wait four to six weeks after the vaccine to avoid any confusion.