The two-shot vaccines of COVID-19 have shown decent efficacy rates even after one dose has been administered, but you could still get infected with the virus after you receive one dose of the vaccine. Hence the time right after receiving the shots and in between the shots is vital: This is the period where the immune system is learning how to protect the body and you are not in the safe zone yet.
Amesh Adalja, MD, and a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security told Refinery29, “Especially between the two doses of a two-dose vaccine-like Pfizer or Moderna, it’s important to make sure that you still take precautions because you’re not fully vaccinated and you could get infected in-between those two doses.”
This is done based on the effectiveness of one dose in a two-dose vaccine. One study claims that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 52% effective after the first dose is administered. The Moderna vaccine, however, has shown 80% effectiveness after the first dose, both the vaccines begin working at their optimum levels around two weeks after the second shot is administered, this is when their efficacy rates are over 90%. It takes around 2 weeks for the body’s immune system to respond completely to the covid-19 vaccine, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hence the second dose is extremely vital.
It also depends on what point you get infected after receiving the vaccination. Adalja told Refinery29, “If you got COVID between doses of the vaccine when you got it in that interval would likely influence how severe the symptoms might be. If it was two weeks post your first dose, I suspect that the vaccine-induced immunity would have some impact on how bad the infection might be. So it’s likely to be a little bit less severe if it’s two weeks or more past the first dose. And I think if it’s before that, you probably don’t have much vaccine-induced immunity. Maybe some after a week, but it could be more like a normal case of COVID-19 that you would have had been it not for the vaccine.”
So what should be done in case you fall ill between doses? This advice has been passed around for a while, you would do exactly what you would do in case you had gotten infected and you had not received the vaccine. At first, you should isolate yourself so that you do not spread the virus to other people. And then, you should take the second dose. Adalja said, “You should get your second dose as planned. But only if you’re not still contagious. So it should be 10 days or so since you developed symptoms or tested positive before you get your second dose so you don’t expose anybody when you’re getting vaccinated.” Moreover, this time period may be different for different people. Abisola Olulade, MD, a physician in San Diego told Refinery29 that individuals who are immunocompromised will take more time to be fully recovered before they can receive the second shot safely. She said, “Possibly for up to 20 days, and you should discuss this with your doctor.”