PITTSBURGH — With the uncertainty on the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, the question of ‘What happens if the second dose is delayed?’ has come up.
We’ve all heard of vaccination providers canceling COVID-19 vaccine appointments because of delivery delays.
Just last week, Allegheny Health Network said they were stopping the scheduling of future appointments because the entire supply has been allocated, and they didn’t know when they would get more.
“AHN has enough vaccine on hand to complete the second doses that we have scheduled over the next two weeks. We are OK, but that’s why we have been extremely careful on how we are modulating on opening up for new appointments,” said Dr. Amy Crawford-Faucher, Vice Chair of Primary Care institute for AHN.
So far, there hasn’t been a delay in getting anyone their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
But, even if there was, infectious disease Dr. Amesh Adalja said it wouldn’t be a big issue.
“If you get the second dose late, you’ll still get the same benefit, but it’s just that you’re not protected in that interval between the first and second dose,” Adalja said.
With the Moderna vaccine, your second dose comes 28 days after your first.
And with Pfizer, it’s 21 days later.
“I think there is some flexibility that is built into this process because of logistical challenges, you don’t have to restart the series again if your second dose is late. It just means there’s a period between first and second dose that you’re susceptible because we don’t quite know how robust the immunity is after one dose and how long it will last,” Adalja said.
UPMC has not been scheduling vaccinations for people who are 65 and older until they get the guarantee from the state that they have all the vaccine they need for the first dose.
As of now, there are no plans to delay second doses.
“We have no plans to delay that second dose but as public health guidance changes, if that’s the direction we get for the vaccine we are receiving, if the state DOH says our state approach is to give more first doses and delay the second doses, we will of course start following suit bc we work hand in hand with our public health colleague,” said UPMC Infection Prevention and Hospital Epidemiology Dr. Graham Snyder.
We are still in category 1-A for vaccinations across the state, which includes healthcare workers, long term care facilities and people who are 65 and older.