Experts anticipate need for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to protect against variants

Posted at 5:31 AM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 07:49:26-04

TAMPA, Fla. — COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers are closely watching the progress and evolution of the virus as they test new formulas against different variants, but experts say booster shots are likely to protect against those variants.

“They sample populations here and all over the world to see how the virus is changing because it does that. It does that all the time,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, USF Health Professor of Public Health, Medicine, and Pharmacy.

A third shot is not yet required by Pfizer or Moderna, and a second dose isn’t needed yet for Johnson & Johnson, but they’re all working on a booster shot.

“Which would be another vaccine for the end of the year, similar to what we do with influenza,” said Wolfson.

Experts say they’re not surprised we may need another dose.

Moderna recently reported it’s looking into booster shots against the South African and Brazilian variants.

The company says its booster shot will be available to Americans this fall.

Pfizer says a third dose is likely needed between six and 12 months after full vaccination. Then from there, a yearly shot is possible.

“We’ll know more about that probably by the end of this year or early 2022 as the virologist and immunologists monitor the changes the virus is going through and determine whether or not the existing vaccine will still be sufficient, which currently it is,” said Wolfson.

Until then, experts say you should continue to wear a mask and follow CDC guidelines.