If you’re still haven’t received your second dose of COVID19 vaccine, now is the time to move up your appointment.
Nova Scotia may be one of the most vaccinated provinces in Canada, but there are still about 35,000 people waiting for a second shot. And until you have two shots of vaccine, you’re not considered fully vaccinated.
You’ll be protected
“You need both doses to be protected,” says Dr. Joanne Langley, co-chair of the Canadian COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force and head of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the IWK Health Centre. “That first dose is when your body first encounters the antigen and starts to develop an immune response so that it will remember it. That second exposure to the vaccine really solidifies your immune response so it’s strong.”
The day you get your second needle is one worth celebrating…carefully. You still need to wait two weeks after that to consider yourself as fully protected as possible as your immune system figures out the best response to the antigen and then builds it up, Dr. Langley explains.
There’s no bad choice
You may have a choice of vaccines when you rebook your second dose. Book whichever is available first, Dr. Langley advises, as the mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) are essentially interchangeable.
“These vaccines are available because Health Canada has reviewed them – they wouldn’t be available to you if they weren’t good vaccines,” Dr. Langley says. “The fact that they’re available to Canadians is a reassurance that you can make a choice and be happy you’ll have good protection.”
Once you get your second shot and pass that two-week mark, it’s still important to continue to follow public health guidelines. These guidelines will likely adapt as the epidemiology of COVID-19 in our communities changes and responds to higher percentages of people getting vaccines, Dr. Langley notes.
You’ll help keep others safe
While a two-dose summer might include indoor dining and visits with friends and family, for example, it isn’t zero risk.
“Even if we’ve had two doses of vaccine, we have to be accepting and comply with public health guidelines.” she says.
“Sometimes you have to do things because you’re part of the team. Just do those things so we can make our society function and not have so many individual cases while we’re all at different levels of one or two doses – stick with it until we get to whatever our new reality is.”
That new reality may eventually include a third shot or a booster shot each year. Public health authorities and epidemiologists see several possible trajectories for COVID-19.
- The virus will simply go away, like SARS did.
- The virus will always be out there and cause outbreaks in people who are not immune.
- The whole world will develop some immunity to the virus, and it will become a cause of less severe illness over time.
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