Here’s why getting the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine but skipping the second could be dangerous

A man gets the first of two shots for the COVID vaccine
Photo via Official U.S. Navy Page/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • The second round of vaccine is essential to avoid contracting the virus
  • Not getting the booster gives the virus an opportunity to mutate
  • The vaccine is most effective after the second dose

Health professionals have spent the last several weeks outlining possible COVID-19 vaccine side effects. They’re now worried people may not show up for the second dose of the two shot vaccine due to these side effects.

These concerns are based on years of observing patients receiving vaccines for issues like shingles, as well as the number of people—around half—who don’t fill prescriptions.

If enough people choose to skip out on the second vaccine, the virus could be presented with a chance to mutate in reaction to the first dose. This would render the vaccine essentially ineffective. If the virus has a chance to spread following its mutation, there’s no telling how long it will take to repeat the process of developing a vaccine. 

One dose of the two shot vaccine may be enough for a handful of people, but the booster is what will provide the greatest amount of protection and resistance in the long term. 

The Centers for Disease Control’s current plan to remind patients of their second shot relies on a four-by-six-inch reminder card. At the state and local level, agencies are planning to take down numbers and emails to send out their own reminders. 

Another solution approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid is to allow providers to pay cash incentives to patients who get vaccinated. No additional funding has been approved or allotted for such a purpose, however.

The second round of the vaccine is essential to avoid contracting the virus. The vaccine was not designed to be used without the follow-up booster shot. While a single shot does confer a degree of resistance to the virus, the only way to have the same surety as those who underwent early trials is to get that second dose. 

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Sources: CBS News, the Hill, the Boston Globe

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