A doozy of a second dose: UArizona expert says it's worth it

Pat Parris receives the second COVID vaccine injection in Moderna phase 3 trial.
Posted at 4:01 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-13 10:18:58-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Despite some issues with availability, CDC data shows most people are receiving the second dose of the COVID vaccine on time.

But some people are reporting more serious side effects with the second dose.

One University of Arizona experts says that means the vaccine is working.

"Even though you have a temporary period of unpleasantness, perhaps fatigue, body aches, it goes away in a day or so," said Dr. Elizabeth Connick, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of Arizona. "Then you've got great immunity."

Both Pfizer and Moderna require two vaccine doses taken weeks apart.

The second dose gained a reputation in the phase 3 trail, and now from the experience of millions, that it tends to cause harsher side effects than the first dose.

Experts say that's because the second dose is amplifying the lessons of the first dose.

Dr. Connick says don't let the possibility of side effects prevent you from getting the second dose.

Some reports say two-thirds of people report no significant side effects at all.

"Actually, the older you are the less likely you are to have those reactions," Dr. Connick said. "I had no reactions."

I can tell you that back in September, as a participant in the Tucson portion of the Moderna trial, I did feel side effects.

I had a slight fever and body aches, after my second shot of the vaccine.

I'm still a volunteer in the Moderna trial. Moderna is checking on how long the antibodies against COVID-19 last.

The drug maker also wants to see if a third booster shot may be necessary to protect against the new COVID variants.

Dr. Connick credits the revolutionary mRNA technology for the answer to COVID and potentially the variants.

"With this technology that's really flexible and hopefully will be able to adapt quickly to incorporate booster vaccines to address the variants."

With the new variants, especially the one first found in South Africa, Dr. Connick knows the importance of quickly reaching herd immunity.

"Getting more people vaccinated is the way to get us out of this."

Dr. Connick is pleased that the feared "Twindemic' has been averted so far -- with the number of flu cases staying very low.

She wonders if mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing will remain during flu seasons in the future.