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Will the COVID-19 vaccine become an annual shot?

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Posted at 10:58 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 23:28:48-04

With plans to rollout vaccine booster shots to the general population next month, does this mean we will need an annual shot to stay protected from COVID-19?

The short answer to the question: No.

Dr. Theodore Bailey, who is the chief of infectious disease at GBMC, said annual shots are unlikely. He said the third dose should provide long lasting immunity.

“We have no data that suggest you would need more than that,” he said.

He said the COVID-19 vaccine may very well follow a shot regimen like Hepatitis B.

“There are a number of other vaccines where the vaccination is not a single shot or a two shot. For instance, Hepatitis B is something when we get vaccinated, we typically require three shots, but then we don’t get further shots down the road,” Dr. Bailey explained.

The CDC has recommended a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine for eligible Americans eight months after receiving the initial two doses.

The federal agency cited studies, which have shown protection from the first two doses weakens over time.

However, research found it is still effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death, the CDC said.

Dr. Matthew Laurens, who is with the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said it’s too early to know for sure if an annual shot will be needed.

“That will be determined based on the science,” he said.

He also said it will depend on many different issues, including new variants, how the current vaccines protect us against them and “the relative burden of disease in the population”.

“All the more reason to anticipate these questions now and go ahead and setup studies that will be in the process of answering the question,” he said. “So, when the time comes if we do need an annual booster, we will know who will need it [and] we will know exactly when the best timing will be for it….some of those studies have already been started and ongoing and others still need to be initiated and completely thought out.”