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Tampa Bay health experts explain importance of second dose of COVID-19 vaccines

TAMPA, Fla. — Now that all adults in Florida are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Tampa Bay area public health experts are reminding people you’ll need to get that important second dose if you received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Debbie Patterson got her second dose of the vaccine at the Tampa Greyhound Track vaccination site Wednesday.

“For me, it’s like I’m not done living. I don’t want to be in the hospital,” said Patterson.

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is only one dose, while Pfizer and Moderna’s are both a two-dose series.

Dr. Jill Roberts, an associate professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health, explained it’s the second boost which is going to really create the protective antibody response and bump the total number of antibodies much higher.

“The efficacy you get with one shot [of Pfizer or Moderna] we think is probably between 60 and 70 percent. Now remember, originally Pfizer was saying they’re 90 percent effective against the original coronavirus strain. We don’t get there until you get the second shot,” said Roberts.

The CDC says studies show the vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19. It says getting a vaccine will also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.

For anyone second-guessing getting their second shot, Dr. Roberts explains why it’s so important.

“This would be the equivalent of saying, ‘Well I’ll just use half of my seat belt half of the time.’ Why bother when your efficacy can go all the way to 90 percent by having both shots,” said Roberts.

Side effects after your second shot may be more intense than after your first shot. Roberts explains why the benefits still outweigh the risks.

“A lot of people have said, ‘I don’t want to get the second shot because I don’t want the side effects.’ And I can tell you from an ICU nurse that would tell you, ‘You want to know what the side effects of intubation are?’” said Roberts.

The CDC notes you should get your second dose as close to the recommended time frame as you can, but it says your second dose may be given up to six weeks after the first dose, if necessary.

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