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What happens if I can't get my second vaccine dose on time?

Some people are having trouble booking appointments for their second COVID-19 shot, but doctors say you don't need to worry too much.

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay has a number of new COVID-19 vaccine sites, thanks to FEMA's new location at the Tampa Greyhound Track and two moving pop-up sites in underserved communities.

Even with all of the vaccine sites, some people across Tampa Bay have been struggling to find their first dose and three to four weeks later, their second dose.

10 Tampa Bay has been asked several times: What happens if I can't get my second dose of the vaccine on the day I'm supposed to?

Doctors say you shouldn't stress too much.

 "What we do know is that a week or two or three likely won't make a difference. Waiting six months or a year, it might," explained Dr. Jay Wolfson, a professor of public health at the University of South Florida. 

We've heard from many people across the bay about scheduling errors and frustration about not being able to secure a second appointment. Others have run into issues with transportation or last-minute conflicts with their scheduled second dose.

It's recommended that if you got your first shot of the Moderna vaccine, your second shot should be given 28 days after your first one. If you get the Pfizer vaccine, the second dose should be given 21 days after the first.

The CDC says you have a little bit of wiggle room. The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended date as possible so you can receive the full protection from the vaccine, but not any earlier than the 28 days for Moderna or 21 days for the Pfizer vaccine. The second dose can be delayed up to six weeks or 42 days after the first dose and still be effective in protecting you from severe illness from COVID-19. The CDC does not currently have data on the effectiveness of the vaccine delay beyond that time frame.

Although a delay isn't a concern for doctors, skipping the second dose entirely is one. The first shot will offer some protection, but the second shot induces a strong immune response that produces all the antibodies you need in order to be protected from severe symptoms of the virus.

Another important note is that you can't mix and match vaccines. You have to get the same brand of the vaccine the second time as you did your first, meaning if you got Pfizer first, your second dose also has to be Pfizer.

Local vaccine distribution sites say they have ample supplies if you're still looking for a shot.

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