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Health officials say NC has second doses of COVID vaccine in reserve

Posted February 22, 2021 4:12 p.m. EST

— For many people, getting the first dose of the vaccine has been hard enough. Just getting that first shot can feel like winning the lottery. 

Now, there are concerns about the supply of second doses after last week's winter weather delayed the delivery of 6 million doses nationwide.

However, health officials say there's no reason to be concerned. Health systems like UNC Health, who have given 175,000 doses – including almost 75,000 second doses – said they planned ahead and have second doses already in reserve.

While the recommendation is to get your second doses 3-4 weeks after the first one, depending on whether or not you got Pfizer of Moderna, doctors said there is some leeway with this time frame.

"Even the CDC says that you can wait as long as 42 days after," said Dr. David Wohl of UNC. "Physiologically, it's probably okay to wait a week, a little bit, even longer than that. And even out to 42 days only if you really need to."

Recent studies also showed some good news: Even one dose gives you some level of protection. The rate of infection after that first dose has been pretty negligible.

Typically, but not always, when you get your first shot you are immediately signed up for your second.

Health experts tell WRAL that, despite concerns, they believe enough vaccine has been set aside in North Carolina for second doses.

"Second doses are sacrosanct. We've got to keep them available for people," said Wohl.

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