COVID-19 vaccine: Will you need more than one?

Will a COVID-19 vaccine be needed every year? How many shots will you have to get? Everything we know.

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You'll need to get two doses of the vaccine.

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The US has now received doses of the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines, which are already being administered throughout the country (here's who's getting it now). The COVID-19 vaccines were approved by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use this month, and will be available at select locations

Now you probably still have questions, like, will you need to get the vaccine every year, and how many doses will you have to get? Will you be better protected if you get more than one type of vaccination?

Since the COVID-19 vaccine is so new, there are still a few unknowns. We'll update this story as scientists, health care providers and health authorities share more information. 

Read more: Coronavirus mRNA vaccines won't just end the pandemic. They could change vaccines forever

Watch this: Will a COVID-19 vaccine be a triumph of science or soul-searching?

How many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will I need to get?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine formulas require two doses to be administered 21 days apart. The Moderna vaccine, which was approved for emergency use on Dec. 18, will also require two doses, 28 days apart. Both injections are needed to be completely effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

So far, there's one vaccine candidate in Phase 3 clinical trials in the US that only requires one shot to be administered, according to the CDC. That company -- Johnson & Johnson -- hasn't sought emergency FDA approval in the US yet.

Will I have to get the coronavirus vaccine every year? 

At this time, it's uncertain how long immunity from the coronavirus will last.

In some patients with COVID-19, antibodies were found to be no longer detectable after several months. Some new evidence suggests the antibodies only last a few months. Another new data set suggests that immunity can last years, the New York Times reported. We continue to rely on new scientific evidence and guidance from national and global policymakers.

Vaccine developers are working to boost the effectiveness of vaccines to provide longer immunity than an actual coronavirus infection would, according to Johns Hopkins University

Keep in mind that even if you do get the vaccine, health experts say it's still necessary to practice social distancing and mask wearing as they learn more about "the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions," the CDC said.

Read more: First confirmed case of coronavirus reinfection is no cause for alarm


It's still uncertain if the COVID-19 vaccine will need annual boosters.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Will I be better protected from the coronavirus if I get vaccinated twice?

Trying to get more than one COVID-19 vaccine isn't recommended for several reasons. Since there's limited supply, it's better for everyone to get vaccinated once (which requires two separate shots about a month apart), to help make sure the entire population has a chance to be immunized.

Receiving a vaccine twice hasn't shown increased immunity for the same pathogen in the past, according to the CDC. For example, two shots of the flu vaccine doesn't provide more immunity.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, here's everything you need to know about receiving the vaccination. As more doses become available, this is where you'll be able to get it. And here's what you should know about hidden vaccine costs and why you might be charged.

Watch this: Vaccines, antibody tests, treatments: The science of ending the pandemic
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.