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Q: How long are you protected after receiving the mRNA COVID vaccine?

Currently, there are three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S. The ones produced by Pfizer and Moderna use a technology called mRNA and require two doses to protect you from COVID-19. The vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson uses a different technology and only requires one dose.

For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, it’s important to receive both doses. While you have some protection after the first dose, your immunity does not fully kick in until after you get the second shot a few weeks later.

According to the CDC, you should get your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine after three weeks and the Moderna vaccine after four weeks. It’s ok to wait a bit longer if you’re not able to get your second vaccine on time due to supply or scheduling issues. Still, it’s a good idea not to wait longer than six weeks, or the vaccine might be less effective.

For both vaccines, it takes your vaccine some time to kick into gear and build up your protection against COVID-19. After about two weeks, you should be nearly 95% protected, but that doesn’t mean you should stop wearing a mask or stop other safety protocols. At this time, mask mandates and limitations on gatherings are still in place to protect all of us – including those that have not been vaccinated.

We know that the COVID vaccines now available offer excellent protection against the virus right now and reduced but still very good protection against new strains such as the U.K variant. For this reason, getting vaccinated is your best option for protecting yourself from COVID-19 and doing your part to help us all get back to some sense of normalcy, including traveling again and spending more time with friends and loved ones.

Chrissy Miller
Employee Health Manager, Maui Health