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Mom Wants to Skip the Second Dose



"My mother just received her first dose of the COVID vaccine and she has decided to just skip the second dose. I think that she’s missing some key info here, but can’t seem to convince her that she should get the second dose.

Mom is 85 years old and I’m afraid that she doesn’t understand the situation. She may not be able to get the second dose later when she comes to her senses. How do I convince her to get the second shot? I am afraid that she’s only partially protected."



You are doing the right thing by attempting to convince your mother that she should get the second dose of the COVID vaccination. She clearly doesn’t understand how vaccinations work.

Many vaccinations have a partial effect after one dose and are boosted with a second or even third dose to have the desired full effect--that is, to prevent you from getting a certain disease. For a vaccine to work, your body must build up resistance to the disease. With the two vaccines currently available in the United States, a second dose is required to achieve reasonable immunity. Without that second dose, her body will not develop enough antibodies to fight off the disease. She will develop some resistance after the first dose, though it may be short lived and not enough to protect her in most situations. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are simply not effective after just one dose.

Your mother’s logic about a second dose of the vaccine is flawed. Her assumption comes from a lack of knowledge. It is not aspirin or acetaminophen, where you simply take what you want.

The pharmacology of medications is complex and assumptions you place on one drug may not necessarily be applied to another. Far too often individuals play around with dosing of medications with incomplete knowledge. Unless you are a physician, a pharmacist, or another knowledgeable health care provider you do not likely have complete understanding about the nuances of medications. How medications are taken is a significant factor in hospitalizations in this country. With ever more medication choices and lifesaving drugs it has become increasingly complex. Most don’t have the knowledge to make safe decisions about medication administration. Playing around with medications is a bit like playing with fire, though with fire you can at least see the danger. That is not true in this case.

I recommend that you show Mom this column, take her to the CDC website, and provide some education on vaccinations which includes the effectiveness after one dose of a vaccine that requires multiple doses. Your mother needs the second dose. Please do your best to convince her to get it when it is scheduled.


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