Moderna says booster will likely be needed this fall; local health officials react

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 11:07 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Moderna reports it’s vaccine is 93-percent effective against COVID -19 for six months after the second shot, but after half a year, they said the vaccine’s effectiveness starts to wane.

Officials with the company said a booster shot will likely be necessary before this winter, because of the Delta variant but local health officials think it may take longer for the CDC to recommend a booster.

“All vaccine effectiveness wanes at some point,” Jefferson County Health Department’s Dr. David Hicks said. “Having a little bit of drop off in the antibody protection from the vaccine after six months doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get a shot every six months.”

Moderna officials did not share exactly what the shot’s effectiveness drops to after six months, but Dr. Hicks said if it’s still effective, the CDC may not recommend boosters until after one year.

“What if it drops to 85%? That is still phenomenal,” Hicks said. “What if it drops to 75%? That is still phenomenal.”

Hicks said data on vaccine effectiveness is an important factor in the debate on boosters, but it’s not the only thing experts are evaluating.

“It’s a combination, looking at will the immunity from the vaccine wane over time and what is the threshold where you need to boost that and who do you boost it for,” he said.

It is unclear if and when the CDC will recommend a booster dose, but if it’s this fall like Moderna officials suggest, Hicks said Alabama is prepared.

“Unless they reformulate the vaccine, then we have vaccine right now in the state that we can give people boosters right now,” he said.

Dr. Hicks said if we need boosters before this winter season, the state will likely ramp up large scale vaccination clinics like previously done.

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