More than 134 million Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine–stimulating progress in the struggle to end the pandemic. But remember: You need a moment dose of an mRNA vaccine, either from Pfizer or Moderna, so as to be considered fully vaccinated from the novel coronavirus.
Recently, there were reports of people getting their next dose from the wrong vaccine maker. A woman in Oregon stated she was accidentally given a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine after receiving her first shot of this Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
She stated she obtained her Pfizer dose in mid-January, when she was seven months pregnant. “I felt horrible for a few days. I was light-headed, having chills, and being seven months pregnant, that worried me,” she said. Burgess didn’t wish to experience that again while pregnant, so she postponed getting her second dose before April 5, after she had her baby.
Soon afterwards, she understood she had been given the wrong vaccine. “At that point, I immediately started Googling,” she explained. “In my head, I’m freaking now, like, that’s not right.”
Burgess said she called her primary care physician and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both told her they’d never noticed this before. As a precaution, they suggested she stop breastfeeding her three-week-old son.
Burgess’s narrative (and others such as hers) increase the question: What happens if you inadvertently get two different COVID-19 vaccines? Here is what you want to know.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are alike –both are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. An mRNA vaccine works by encoding a portion of the spike protein found in the surface of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, based on the CDC. These vaccines use bits of the encoded protein to prompt an immune response in the human anatomy, and antibodies to the virus have been developed.
Here’s the full list of components at the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, each the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
And here is the full list of components for the Moderna vaccine, according to the FDA:
“These vaccines are very similar,” says Jamie K. Alan, Pharm.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology at Michigan State University. “They differ in the inactive ingredients, but the mode by which they work is nearly identical.”
The CDC expressly says in interim guidance the COVID-19 vaccines are”not interchangeable,” adding that,”the safety and efficacy of a mixed-product series have not been evaluated.” Instead, the agency says, both doses of the vaccine show using an mRNA vaccine should be completed with the exact same product.
However, the CDC does state that in”exceptional situations,” at which the very first dose of the vaccine can’t be determined or is no longer available,”any available mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at a minimum interval of 28 days between doses to complete the mRNA COVID-19 vaccination series.”
It’s unclear now, but you likely won’t have unusual side effects, says infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Besides, you’ll likely still get the benefits of being fully vaccinated, he states.
William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, agrees that mixing vaccines is likely safe and effective. But he also emphasizes that”mixing and matching has not been explicitly studied.”
He also noted that accidentally getting the second dose in the wrong maker is likely to continue happening. “This won’t be the first time, by any means–whether inadvertently or because somebody got their vaccine at one place and then wound up at a different place that had a different vaccine,” he states.
If you end up receiving doses of 2 distinct mRNA vaccines, you don’t require additional doses of either one, the CDC says.
“Because the vaccines that are being interchanged use the exact same technology and are very close to being identical, people will have very similar immunity after they’re fully vaccinated,” Dr. Adalja states.
The CDC notes: “In situations where the same mRNA vaccine product is temporarily unavailable, it is preferable to delay the second dose (up to six weeks) to receive the same product than to receive a mixed series using a different product.”
In the majority of situations, pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors offices”should have protocols in place so that this doesn’t happen,” says Richard Watkins, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University. They ought to be able to get into your digital health records to verify that you are receiving another dose of the same vaccine.
Once you arrive for your second dose appointment, Dr. Schaffner urges paying attention to the kind of vaccine you’re going to get. Before the vaccine administrator bothers you, ask them which vaccine you are about to get.
Can’t recall which vaccine you have the very first time and your digital records are not available? Dr. Adalja says to consult your vaccination card. “The type of vaccine you received should be clearly listed on it,” he says.
You can also register for VaxText, a free text-message-based system that lists your vaccination date and COVID-19 vaccine title, plus sends out second-dose reminders.
Overall, accidentally getting the wrong vaccine on your second dose is not something to worry about. “Most of the time, this doesn’t happen,” Dr. Adalja states.
This report is accurate as of press time. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic quickly evolves and the scientific community’s understanding of this novel coronavirus develops, some of the info might have changed since it was last updated. While we plan to maintain all our stories current, please visit online tools supplied by the CDC, WHO, and your local public health division to stay informed on the latest news. Always talk with your physician for professional medical advice.
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