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Between Doses: Staying safe while waiting to get second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Karen Landers says, “It’s very important to go ahead and get that second dose before you travel because you’re not fully protected. You have to remember..."

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — We’ve been hearing a lot about the importance of getting vaccinated. 

But, with the vaccines that require two doses, like Pfizer and Moderna, there’s about a three to four week period between your first and second shot.  

Are there some things you should keep in mind during that time? 

Our team checked in with some experts to find out.

We met with Dr. Karen Landers, Assistant State Health Officer of Alabama Department of Public Health. She tells us, “After a person receives their first dose of the two-dose series of either Pfizer or Moderna, we have to remember that people are still susceptible to developing this virus, as with the J&J vaccine.”

So, during the time between doses, it could be especially crucial to do things like wearing your mask. 

We also spoke with Dr. Ali Hassoun, and Infectious Disease Specialist who works with Huntsville Hospital. Dr. Hassoun tells our reporter, “So, if you get the first shot, you’re going to really need to continue to follow the required and recommended rules, meaning the masking, the physical distancing-- even the fully vaccinated people.” 

So, when can you consider yourself to be fully vaccinated, with the vaccine working at its highest efficiency?

Dr. Landers advises, “Two weeks post the second doses. Again, with the Johnson and Johnson, two weeks post the first dose.” 

Though travel numbers are still lower than what we’d see during a "normal" year, we’ve seen an uptick in airline travelers as the weather warms up and vaccines roll out. 

Our reporter asked these experts whether or not you’d be protected if you decided to take a trip after only getting your first dose of the vaccine. 

Dr. Karen Landers says, “It’s very important to go ahead and get that second dose before you travel because you’re not fully protected. You have to remember, in terms of that home quarantine, if you’re not sully protected, you’re going to have a different guideline for home quarantine.”

Even if you’re fully vaccinated, you need to continue to take the pandemic seriously, and not just for your own safety. 

Dr. Ali Hassoun explains, “If we want to achieve herd immunity-- Even if I’m fully vaccinated and I have the two shots and I might be immune, I might get a mild infection and transmit it to those who are not vaccinated.” 

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