Health officials predict a vaccine booster could be needed after one year

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 11:12 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Pfizer and the CDC released new data this week showing the company’s Covid-19 vaccine is 91 percent effective in preventing illness for at least 6 months after your second shot.

“In all likelihood, it’s much longer,” Jefferson County Health Department infectious disease expert Dr. Wesley Willeford said. “We just don’t know how long yet.”

Dr. Willeford said it doesn’t mean you’ll need a booster shot after six months. He said studies are still being done to determine when and if a booster is necessary.

“Understanding how long the immunity lasts and understanding how long the protection lasts,” Willeford said. “The way we have to do that is we have to keep going back to that original group of 40,000 people in the Pfizer group and we have to go back and say ‘Hey do you still have protection against Covid-19?’

Dr. Willeford said there’s no way to know if an additional vaccine will be needed until more time passes.

“I think my gut feeling is we are probably going to get about a year at least out of the vaccine,” he said. “We may get a little bit longer, but right now it is just sort of a wait and see approach.”

He said needing a booster after one year is common for many vaccines.

“It does not change like flu does, so that is not going to be the reason we need to get a new vaccine every year,” Willeford said. “It may just be that our gets smaller and less potent overtime.”

If an additional shot is necessary, Dr. Willeford said we likely wont see short supply like with the first round of vaccines.

“I don’t think you are going to see the same degree of difficulty with getting the vaccine out if we need to do a booster,” Willeford said. “I think it is going to be a much smoother process if that were to come to pass.”

“So far, the data is positive and suggests we are going to get a long period of time out of these vaccines,” he said.

Dr. Willeford said Pfizer will follow the original trial participants for at least two years to see how long their protection against the virus lasts.

Copyright 2021 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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