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Pick an arm, either arm: It's fine to switch sides for second COVID-19 vaccine dose

A viewer asked whether she could get her second dose in her opposite arm, even if she did a drive-thru clinic. Yes, there's no downside, and it might be preferred.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Roll up your sleeve and roll back the layers of misinformation circulating about the COVID-19 vaccine.


WFMY News 2 viewer Connie Turner asked, "If you drive up (to a COVID-19 vaccine appointment), is it possible to switch arms in the second dose? May sound silly, but it keeps running through my head.'



All sources conclude the answer is yes. It is true you can switch arms for the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (or choose which arm for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine). There is no medical or logistical reason why you can't, even if you choose a drive-thru option, like the one at Greensboro's FEMA clinic.

RELATED: It's open! Greensboro FEMA coronavirus vaccine site is up and running

NC Emergency Management communications representative Keith Acree explained, "It's personal preference in which arm the patient wants to receive the vaccine. First and second doses can be in the same arm or different arms."

As for the technicality of being in your car, he said, "In the drive-thru clinic, staff will work with you to administer the vaccine into the arm you prefer, no matter which side of the vehicle you are seated on."

RELATED: You're fully vaccinated against COVID-19, here's what you can and can't do | 2 Your Well-Being

Infection prevention physician Cynthia Snider, MD affirmed there are no downsides to switching arms for the second dose. 

And, it might be more comfortable for you to do so. 

RELATED: After the shot: here's what side effects to expect with the COVID-19 vaccine

The CDC's information page on COVID-19 vaccine allergic reactions explains some people report experiencing a red, itchy, swollen rash at the injection site, sometimes dubbed "COVID arm." The CDC emphasized, "...you should still get the second shot at the recommended interval if the vaccine you got needs a second shot," but tell your vaccine provider about it, so you can discuss getting the second shot in the other arm.


Roll up either sleeve to get your COVID-19 vaccine. Just get the second dose, if your vaccine requires two doses for maximum effectiveness.

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