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Receiving your first dose of coronavirus vaccine doesn't mean you're in the clear

Posted January 14, 2021 7:28 p.m. EST

Julie Martinez-Hayes and her 82-year-old mother, Carol Bissonnette, rushed to the West Johnston clinic in hopes of getting Bissonnette vaccinated.

“There was a lot of anticipation and adrenaline. She [Bissonnette] kept trying to count who was in back of us and who was in front of us,” Martinez-Hayes said.

After five hours, Bissonnette finally got the blue wristband she’d been waiting for.

"They gave her a little wristband and that meant she was going to get a vaccine,” Martinez-Hayes explained.

Bissonnette received the Moderna vaccine and is scheduled to get her second dose on Feb. 9. Although Martinez-Hayes is relieved Bissonnette got the vaccine, she knows her mom is still not fully immune.

“Her immunity doesn’t even start for another two weeks and she could still pick up the virus and transmit it,” Martinez-Hayes said. “So, this isn’t the end, by far. It’s just coverage, so that when she comes into contact with it, she is less likely to get sick. But she can still pass it on to me, so we’re still following all the usual things."

The Moderna vaccine is believed to be highly effective after two doses, but there’s evidence that it may help stop the spread after just one dose.

Data on the FDA’s website shows that after one shot, asymptomatic infection was down by 63%.

Pfizer’s vaccines are also very effective after two doses, but only believed to be 50% effective a week after the first dose.

WakeMed Chief Medical Officer Charles Harr says it's important to follow through with that second dose to significantly boost the immune response. The full efficacy from vaccines happens around two to three weeks.

"We don’t know for sure if that means you don’t have infection, or you just don’t have the symptoms from it,” Harr explained. “Therefore, we also don’t know if you are able to be infected and just don’t have symptoms.”

Harr says getting vaccinated is a step in the right direction and the beginning of the end that many families have been waiting for.

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