Two Doses are Key

Our COVID-19 vaccination numbers are rising every week! In fact, we already gave over 7 million doses in Washington, and thousands more are getting the vaccine every day. Thank you to those who are fully vaccinated. If you already got a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, it’s important to make sure you get your second one. Even though planning for it might add to your to-do list, please don’t skip it! You need both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to get the best protection against COVID-19.

Need another reason to get both doses? As more people are fully vaccinated, we get closer to reopening Washington state. More than half of Washingtonians over 16 years are already fully vaccinated, and over 63% already got their first dose. If we can reach ideal vaccination rates, our communities will be safer and we can get back to doing some of the things we stopped because of the pandemic.

Get both doses for the most protection

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require two doses. Both doses are important for the vaccines to work. The first dose helps your body start making antibodies and provides some protection against COVID-19. The second dose helps your body build enough antibodies for complete protection from the virus — and its variants.

Just getting the first dose isn’t enough. It is very important to get both doses so your body can fight the virus if you get infected. Skipping the second dose leaves you vulnerable to the virus, especially with new variants circulating out there.

You need to wait three to four weeks between shots:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech doses should be given 3 weeks (21 days) apart
  • Moderna doses should be given 1 month (28 days) apart

Plan your second shot as close as possible to the recommended time above, but no sooner. And if you are late for your second dose, that’s ok! You won’t have to start over. What’s most important is that you get both doses, no matter how far apart they are. It’s better to get your second shot late than not at all.

You need to wait a while after your second dose to get the best protection. It takes your body about two weeks to build all the antibodies to best defend you from the virus. That’s why you’re not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after your second dose.

You might have experienced some minor side effects after you got your first dose, like a sore arm, fatigue, headache, or muscle pain. These are perfectly normal and mean the vaccine is working! It’s ok to worry about side effects, especially if you had some the first time, but don’t let that stop you from getting your second dose. Side effects are temporary, manageable, and much less dangerous than getting sick with COVID-19.

Get ready for your second dose

Providers and vaccine sites have different systems for scheduling second dose appointments. Check with your vaccine provider or site staff to find out how to make your second appointment. Or, use the Vaccine Locator to find appointments.

It’s ok if you can’t get your second dose where you got your first one — you don’t have to go to the same place. Don’t worry if you got your first dose in another state, you can still get your second dose here in Washington. You don’t even need to live or work in Washington state to get your second dose here. All that matters is that you get the same brand of vaccine for both doses — don’t mix and match the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. And don’t forget to bring your vaccine card with you when you get your second dose.

Getting both doses out to all Washingtonians is a complex effort, and some vaccine providers may have hiccups in scheduling. Don’t give up! Your patience will pay off. When you are fully vaccinated after your second dose, you can go back to doing some things you had to stop because of the pandemic.

If you haven’t got your first dose yet, what are you waiting for? Summer is almost here, so get vaccinated as soon as possible! Just remember that if you get a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you need both doses. And everyone — even those who got the vaccine — should continue to help keep our communities safe by wearing masks and staying six feet apart where required. Remember to get tested when sick. So, get vaccinated — together we can enjoy the summer and put this pandemic in our rear-view, once and for all!

More information

Information in this blog changes rapidly. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to everyone 12 and older. For more information about the vaccine, visit CovidVaccineWA.org and use the vaccine locator tool to find an appointment. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.

WA Notify can alert you if you’ve been near another user who tested positive for COVID-19. Add WA Notify to your phone today: WANotify.org

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.

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