COVID vaccine: What to do if you miss 6-week deadline to get your second dose

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As more Floridians get vaccinated against coronavirus, some aren’t getting their second COVID-19 shot within the recommended window.

The second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be delayed up to six weeks – or 42 days. Public health experts say you have some wiggle room, but what happens if you miss that six-week deadline too?

It happened to a Tampa Bay area man who, desperate for the dose, reached out to 8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi for help.

Vincent Tuzzolino got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine by luck. The 46-year-old drove his mom to Ed Radice park for her shot and he ended up scoring a leftover dose.

“I said, ‘I’m not of age yet.’ She said, ‘we have extras, we don’t want to waste them,’ so I said, ‘I’ll take it,'” Mr. Tuzzolino said.

That was on Jan. 29.

Mr. Tuzzolino contacted 8 On Your Side because, despite calls and emails, he hasn’t secured that second shot. He says he even dropped by Hillsborough County’s site.

“I told her how I got the shot – that I got it by accident, they had extras – and she said, ‘well, we’re not doing that now,'” said Mr. Tuzzolino.

Public health experts say the second dose of the COVID vaccine can be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. For Mr. Tuzzolino, it’s now day 46.

“Yea, I was getting close. That’s why I was trying to get it,” he said.

So what happens now? We wondered if he needed to start over or if can he even get that second shot. For answers, we went to the Dr. John Greene, the chief of infectious diseases at Moffitt Cancer Center.

“Yes, get the second vaccine. Yes, it’s late, it’s probably fine,” Dr. Greene said. “It just wasn’t in the guidelines of what the CDC recommended, that’s all we can say.”

Back to Mr. Tuzzolino – it looked like getting the vaccine fast was his best shot.

The Florida Department of Health told 8 On Your Side Mr. Tuzzolino could get the second shot at the FEMA-supported site in Tampa on Tuesday. All he had to do was go there with his vaccination card.

If you’re coming up on that six-week deadline and you can’t get the second shot, contact 8 On Your Side for help.

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