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VERIFY: If you get your second COVID-19 shot, but not in the recommended timeframe, are you still 'fully vaccinated?'

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines recommend the second dose within 21 and 28 days of the first dose, respectively. Are you still fully vaccinated if you miss that window?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With both COVID-19 vaccines currently on the market, two doses are needed before health officials consider a person to have completed the vaccine series and be fully vaccinated.

Each vaccine also recommends a specific window of time to get that second dose.

THE QUESTION

Are you still fully vaccinated if you get that second COVID-19 vaccine shot but miss the recommended timeframe for it?

THE ANSWER

Yes. Health officials considered you to be fully vaccinated if you've had both doses, regardless of the timeframe in which you got the doses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, for the Pfizer vaccine, a second dose should be administered 21 days after the first. For the Moderna vaccine, that window is 28 days after the first dose.

Credit: CDC

There's even a little wiggle room for how soon you can have your second dose, according to Dr. Brannon Traxler, Interim Public Health Director for South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control.

"You can get the second dose anywhere from four days before that recommended interval," Traxler said. "So, 17 days would be the minimum days that have passed since your Pfizer first dose. It would be 24 days for your Moderna first dose."

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As for how late you can get your second dose, the CDC states: "There is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine." 

The agency reports, if you go longer than the recommended timeframe, "there is no need to restart the series."

So you don't need to start again, but are you still immunized?

"Yes, you would be fully vaccinated, as long as you got that second dose," Traxler said.

However, Traxler reminds us that vaccine supply is limited. So, it is still important to get that second dose when it is available to you. That way, you can guarantee a complete vaccine series.