CDC revises interval for some individuals to receive second COVID-19 mRNA

Published 7:38 pm Friday, February 25, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

After a thorough evaluation of the latest safety and effectiveness data and evidence from hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccines safely administered in the United States and the billions of vaccines administered in other countries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has clarified the COVID-19 vaccination schedule, based on the individual patient.

New data indicate that some people ages 12 through 64 years—and especially males ages 12 through 39 years—would benefit from getting their second mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose 8 weeks after receiving their first dose.

Extending the time interval between primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses from the FDA-approved or authorized 3 weeks (Pfizer-BioNTech) or 4 weeks (Moderna) to 8 weeks may help increase how long protection lasts against COVID-19. It may also help lower the (small) risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (swelling of tissue around the heart), which has been associated—mostly among adolescent and young adult males—with mRNA COVID-19 vaccination.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

According to the CDC, regardless of the interval between the first and second dose, mRNA vaccines are highly effective at reducing the risk of hospitalization and serious complications from COVID-19 infection. People who have already received their primary mRNA series at the 3-week or 4-week interval remain well-protected—especially if they have received a booster dose.

Providers should continue to recommend the 3-week or 4-week interval for the following:

• Individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised

• Adults ages 65 years and older

• People who may need early protection due to concern about an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or high levels of community transmission

People ages 12 years and older with moderate or severe immunocompromise should receive three doses in their mRNA primary vaccine series and should receive a booster dose with an mRNA vaccine at least 3 months after completing their third primary series dose.

For information from the Alabama Department of Public Health on COVID-19 visit