TAMPA, Fla. — Scientists are working to understand how long immunity lasts after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Experts say people should be prepared to get a booster shot.
“Getting COVID is a very dangerous gamble. You might not get very sick or you might die. We have trouble predicting which,” said Dr. John Sinnott, Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida and Epidemiologist at Tampa General Hospital.
That’s why researchers are tiring to figure out when we’ll need another vaccine dose.
Right now healthcare officials are uncertain exactly how long the vaccine protects against COVID-19.
However, they believe it may not be as effective past a year or protect well against new and evolving variants, while other experts say immunity could last longer than that.
“We’re not dealing with a static agent. This agent changes as we fight it,” said Sinnott.
Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are all looking into vaccine boosters and preparing for what the next mutation could be, and factoring in future variants.
Scientists say they're watching India closely right now as a COVID-19 variant is leading the outbreak where more than 300,000 people have died from the virus. Researchers have found multiple strain mutations.
“We find one, it makes people sicker. Two, it’s more transmissible. Three, having COVID before does not often protect you. This is a very dangerous variant. The vaccines help but it only needs one more mutation and it won’t be protected by the vaccine,” said Sinnott.
Pfizer’s CEO recently said their data suggests we’ll likely need a booster between eight and 12 months.
A possible decrease in immunity is something some doctors are concerned about since healthcare workers were among the first people to get vaccinated. Some got the shot as early as last December.
“We have to keep in mind that this is total war. COVID anywhere is a risk for COVID everywhere,” said Sinnott.