The CDC Just Gave a Shocking COVID Vaccine Update

The top health agency just clarified a vital piece of information everyone needs to know.

The arrival and rollout of two highly effective coronavirus vaccines has finally put the end of the pandemic within sight. The mRNA vaccines developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna work in the same way and boast roughly the same efficacy rate of about 95 percent, but there's one difference you've likely heard about: the varying intervals between shots. According to an update posted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Jan. 11, making sure to get both doses of the COVID vaccine is key in order to reap the benefits of that 95 percent protection rate. But there's a new bit of information you likely didn't know: "There is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine," the CDC says. Read on to find out what the agency means by this, and for more vaccine advice, know that If You Take These OTC Meds, You Have to Stop Before Getting the Vaccine.

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You need two shots "to get the most protection."

Covid-19 vaccine vial picked up by blue nitrile surgical glove-covered hand

The CDC emphasizes that it's important to get the second shot after the primary injection to achieve the best results. "Both COVID-19 mRNA vaccines will need 2 shots to get the most protection," the CDC states.

If you only get the first shot, your vaccine is just over 50 percent effective. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Moderna vaccine is 50.8 percent effective after the first dose, and the Pfizer shot is 52.4 percent after the first dose. And for more issues to be aware of, know that The FBI Just Gave This Warning About the COVID Vaccine.

Don't get your second dose too soon.

Doctor filling out yellow vaccination card for COVID vaccine
Leonsbox / iStock

Those receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech must wait three weeks (or 21 days) to get their second shot, and those receiving the Moderna vaccine must wait one month (or 28 days). The CDC clearly specifies that "you should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval." And for more regular coronavirus updates, sign up for our daily newsletter.

You should get your second dose as close to the recommended time period as possible.

Doctor wearing protective face shield injecting COVID-19 vaccine to colleague
valentinrussanov / iStock

While the CDC says "you should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 1-month interval as possible," the agency adds: "There is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine."

However, earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended against delaying second doses. "The available data continue to support the use of two specified doses of each authorized vaccine at specified intervals," the FDA ruled. "Suggesting changes to the FDA-authorized dosing or schedules of these vaccines is premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence." And for more vaccine guidance from this health agency, check out The FDA Just Ruled You Can't Do These 4 Things With the COVID Vaccines.

Don't skip the second dose, even if you have side effects from the first.

Shot of a man standing in front of the bathroom mirror looking exhausted, holding his head

Doctors and public health experts have been warning Americans for weeks that the COVID vaccine is not without side effects. But don't let that stop you from getting your second dose. "Get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first shot, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get a second shot," the CDC states.

During a Jan. 7 video event hosted by, Peter Marks, MD, the director for the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said "the only things that would prevent you from getting vaccinated is if you had a known allergy to one of the things that are in the vaccines or if you had a bad allergic reaction to the first shot." And for more on what else you can expect when you get your jab, check out Dr. Fauci Just Gave This Warning About COVID Vaccine Side Effects.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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