The CDC Just Made This Major Update to Its Vaccine Guidelines

Kali Coleman
·3 min read

The COVID vaccine has only been available in the country since December, and the U.S. has already administered more than 17 million doses. Even so, the vaccine rollout has not exactly been a smooth endeavor, with some states already running out of vaccines. These issues may force some recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to change over time. In fact, the CDC just made a major update to their vaccine guidelines concerning the timeline of the second dose. Read on to find out what this change means for you, and for more on the second shot, Dr. Fauci Says He Had These Side Effects From His Second Vaccine Dose.

The CDC says you can wait up to six weeks to get your second vaccine dose.

General practitioner vaccinating old patient at home
General practitioner vaccinating old patient at home

People can now wait up to six weeks (or 42 days) after their first dose of the COVID vaccine to get their second dose "if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval," the CDC says. This has changed from their previous guidelines, which said that "there is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine." The CDC does still note that second doses should not be given earlier than the timeframe recommended. And for more CDC guidelines you need to know, The CDC Warns Against Using These 6 Face Masks.

But the actual recommended time between vaccine doses is shorter than that.

Coronavirus vaccination
Coronavirus vaccination

The recommended interval of time between doses is still shorter than six weeks for both vaccines, however. According to the CDC, the Pfizer vaccine doses should be given about three weeks apart, or 21 days, and the Moderna vaccine doses should be given about a month apart, or 28 days. Even in its newly updated guidelines, the CDC says that the second dose should be given as close to this recommended time as possible. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Dr. Fauci says delaying your second dose would be "taking a chance."

Man and woman, two people with protective mask walking and talking on the street in safe distance.
Man and woman, two people with protective mask walking and talking on the street in safe distance.

Not everyone is totally on board with delaying second doses. Anthony Fauci, MD, chief medical adviser to the White House, told CNN that people would be "taking a chance" if they followed the updated guidance from the CDC.

"You're taking a chance. The data from the clinical trials showed that in the Moderna trial, you should get the boost 28 days after the prime, that's what I got, I got it exactly 28 days later—when you're dealing with Pfizer it's 21, that's where the data show is the optimal effect," Fauci told CNN on Jan. 21. He noted that it may be possible the delay is "not going to be a big deal," but it's impossible to know for sure because no trials have been conducted on the extended time internal. And for more essential vaccine information, If You Take These OTC Meds, You Have to Stop Before Getting the Vaccine.

And the FDA has not supported delaying second doses.

A female healthcare worker injects a middle-aged man with the COVID-19 vaccine.
A female healthcare worker injects a middle-aged man with the COVID-19 vaccine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had also previously advised against delaying second doses. On Jan. 4, the agency issued a statement after health officials had considered adopting plans to delay people's second doses to save supplies for others to get theirs first—a move that has been adopted in other countries, like the U.K.

"At this time, suggesting changes to the FDA-authorized dosing or schedules of these vaccines is premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence," the agency said in its statement. "Without appropriate data supporting such changes in vaccine administration, we run a significant risk of placing public health at risk, undermining the historic vaccination efforts to protect the population from COVID-19." And for more vaccine guidelines, discover The Only 2 People Who Shouldn't Get the COVID Vaccine, FDA Official Says.