Public Health Question (July 2021)

My child is starting school September 8th and is within the recommended age group to get vaccinated for COVID-19—when do they need to get their first shot in order to be fully vaccinated by the first day of school?

  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and will help protect you from getting COVID-19
  • In New Jersey, everyone aged 12 and up is recommended to get vaccinated. Currently, “the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for individuals 12 years of age and older.” There are two doses, given 21 days apart in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The term “fully vaccinated” means that the full efficacy of the vaccine has been reached which results in immunity. This occurs after a full two-weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
  • In order to be “fully vaccinated” by September 8th, the following protocol is recommended: obtain the first dose by August 4th, obtain the second does by August 25th, therefore, full immunity would be reached by the first day of school, September 8th. Below, there is a calendar with these dates noted.
  • It is important to note that getting the first and second dose prior to the recommended dates would also mean that your child would be “fully vaccinated” by the first day of school, or September 8th.
  • If the start date is not the same as mentioned in the question. The following timing should be used: count two weeks prior to the first date of school. This is when the second dose of the two-dose series should be given. Then, count three weeks prior to that date, and that is when the first dose should be given. It is easier to work backwards from the two-week period in which it takes for immunity to be reached. This way proper planning can take place to schedule the vaccination appointment.
  • As always, consult with your child’s pediatrician with any questions or concerns.

To learn more about the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine:

To learn more about what “fully vaccinated” means:

To learn more about the safety, efficacy, and possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines:

To learn more specifically why the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for adolescents:

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