COVID-19: Why you shouldn't get a second Covid jab too early (BBC)

Carolina Williams
August 14, 2021

With the second Covid vaccine becoming more accessible for many that are eligible, there are concerns surrounding both the effectiveness and distribution of the vaccine. There has been expert advice to suggest that eight weeks between the two doses may be the most appropriate duration, particularly in terms of optimising immunity and potentially delaying the requirement for future booster immunisations. However, this could lead to vaccines being wasted and therefore poses the question as to whether people should be encouraged to receive the second vaccination earlier than this (especially if they technically could safely be given sooner than at eight weeks) i.e. 21 days after the first Pfizer vaccine dose.

Food for Thought

Why might earlier administration of the vaccine be beneficial?

Now that restrictions in the UK have eased significantly, it is within our best interests that we administer vaccinations to as many people as soon as possible to achieve herd immunity and especially protect those who are at greater risk and unable to receive the vaccine. It is also likely that proof of vaccination may be required in the near future to attend big social events, certain venues (such as nightclubs, stadiums, theatres, for example), and also for travel (both when travelling to other countries and also entering the UK). Therefore, many young people are being urged to get the vaccine as soon as they are given a chance so that, on both the individual and population scale, we can return to a more โ€˜normalโ€™ day-to-day life. However, there is the suggestion that, generally, the longer the interval between vaccine doses, the larger the immunity built up against Covid. Therefore, the interval between the two jabs must be weighed up against achieving protection as soon as possible. As a result, eight weeks between Pfizer vaccine doses has been deemed โ€˜the sweet spotโ€™ by government health advisors.


What about booster vaccines?

The NHS already has plans in place to administer Covid booster vaccines in order to promote continual protection as much as possible against Covid. The booster jabs will likely begin during autumn for those aged 50 years and over, hopefully providing increased immunity in time for winter โ€“ a particularly vulnerable time, virus-wise.

Practice Interview QUestions
  1. What do you think about walk-in centres for the second dose? Do you think that the advice regarding eight weeks between doses should be consistently followed or that people should be allowed to choose when they have their second dose, as long as the time interval between vaccines is considered safe?
  2. Do you think that patients are sufficiently educated about the positives and negatives of having the second vaccination earlier or later before deciding on the timing of their second dose?
  3. What are some of the risks of administering the vaccine earlier? Or later?


Author: Carolina Williams

Editor: Allegra Wisking

Extra Reading (optional)

Vaccination rates and information โ€“ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-57273875

NHS plans for booster vaccines โ€“ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-57667987