EXPLAINER: What to do if you miss your second dose of Covid vaccine

The second dose comes approximately eight weeks after the first injection.

In Summary

•Do not panic.

•For the AstraZeneca vaccine, the second dose also gives you more protection. But here is the good news. 

Inspector General Hillary Mutyambai receives Covid vaccination on Wednesday, 10 March.
Inspector General Hillary Mutyambai receives Covid vaccination on Wednesday, 10 March.
Image: WILFRED NYANGARESI

At least 196,000 Kenyans have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The second dose comes approximately eight weeks after the first injection.

All beneficiaries are given a specific date for the second dose, beginning this month.

According to the Ministry of Health, the second dose will be given from a shipment of vaccines that is yet to arrive in Kenya from India.

But what if you miss your second dose on the specific date given, or what if India restricts exports and the shipment of the second dose is delayed?

Do not panic.

All vaccines work by training the immune system to respond to future infections. They are overwhelmingly safe for the majority of people who receive them, and they do not cause disease.

The first dose primes immunological memory, and the second dose solidifies it.

For instance, one dose of the Pfizer vaccine can reduce a person’s risk of getting a symptomatic infection by about 50 per cent, and one dose of the Moderna shot can do so by about 80 per cent. Two doses of either vaccine will lower the risk by about 95 per cent.

For the AstraZeneca vaccine, the second dose also gives you more protection. But here is the good news.

Developers of the University of Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine—which is authorised for use in Kenya—suggest even longer stretches are possible, saying their shot performs better when its doses are spaced 12 weeks apart. Their data is in a new preprint paper, released before peer review.

In the different clinical trials conducted, this vaccine has been shown to protect against symptomatic infections with efficacy ranging between 60 per cent and 90 per cent.

According to an analysis published in The Lancet, this difference may be due to the interval between both doses: a longer interval (12 weeks) protects better (above 80 per cent) than an interval below six weeks (under 60 per cent).

So when you miss the second dose on the scheduled date, you can still go and get it when you have time.

The goal is to get the second dose as close as possible to the recommended interval, as that timing was studied for each of these two vaccines. The study led to very high levels of effectiveness.

Of those already vaccinated, 111,458 are males and 84,977 females. The ministry says 74,698 of those vaccinated were healthcare workers, 14,364 security personnel, 24,615 teachers and 53,216 members of the public, including those aged 58 and above.

Nairobi has so far vaccinated the highest number at 63,034, followed by Uasin Gishu with 13,884, Nakuru (11,994), Kisumu (8,656), Kajiado (6,842), Kiambu (6,497), Mombasa (6,397) and Murang’a (5,471).

“We urge our global partners to be equitable and fair to all countries that are facing the same challenge managing the Covid-19 pandemic,” Health CAS Rashid Aman said on Thursday.

The government expects to receive another 2.5 million doses of vaccines next month, he said.

The consignment will go a long way in boosting our vaccination exercise in the second phase of this programme which will see more Kenyans receive the jab.” Nyeri has vaccinated 5,273, Trans Nzoia 4,392, Laikipia 4,062, Kericho 3,787, Bungoma 3,592, Homa Bay 3,588, Kisii 3,294, Nyandarua 3,000, Kitui 2,732, Siaya 2,584, Narok 2,420, Elgeyo Marakwet 2,378, Vihiga 2,348, Kirinyaga 2,311, Embu 2,008, Kakamega 2,002 and Baringo 1,943.Nandi had 1,861, Bomet with 1,823, Busia 1,801, Meru 1,552, Tharaka Nithi 1,500, Wajir 1,271, Migori 1,240, Kilifi 1,085, west Pokot 1,020, Samburu 969, Garissa 845, Nyamira 732, Taita Taveta 714, Makueni 647, Kwale 576, Isiolo 559, turkan 502, Tana River 419, Mandera 395, marsabit 203 and Lamu with 149.