How many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will you need to get?

Person receives a shot as one of the doses for the covid vaccine
Photo via SELF Magazine/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • The Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines will require boosters
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will only require one shot
  • The FDA has given emergency authorization to a vaccine only once before

Depending on which coronavirus vaccine you choose— or have access to— the number of doses you need may change. So, how many doses of the COVID vaccine will you need to take when it becomes available to you?

Pfizer and Moderna have created vaccines which require two doses to be effective, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose

These double dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are to be spaced three to four weeks apart, respectively. The Pfizer vaccine has already begun in the U.K. AstraZeneca’s vaccine will also need a booster shot, but it’s not clear which interval the manufacturer will be submitting in its application to regulators. AstraZeneca has not yet applied for Food and Drug Administration approval, and it’s unclear when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be ready for authorization.

The Pfizer vaccine, meanwhile, was given emergency use authorization by the FDA on Dec. 11. The FDA has only given that emergency authorization for a vaccine once before, in response to the anthrax threat of 2005. 

The first priority for inoculation will be healthcare workers, residents of nursing homes, and those with health issues that predispose them to suffer worse cases of coronavirus.

Tracking who got which vaccine and when has been left up to state and local health officials, so those people who take COVID vaccines that need multiple doses can be kept in order.

Read more on the coronavirus vaccine:

Sources: Washington Post, NPR, CDC, Fierce Pharma

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