CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, it remains unknown just how long immunity lasts, but vaccine developers and health officials know that it won’t be forever — and that emerging variants could escape immunity.
Local physicians say there’s no set timeline for a booster shot because all of the data is brand new.
The bottom line is that we are still learning about the virus.
“This is a new virus. We don’t know anybody that’s been immunized 2 years ago because we didn’t have the vaccine. Clearly this is being adjusted as it develops,” says Dr. Carlos Baleerio, Pulmonologist at CHI Memorial.
Researchers and health officials suspect that the immunity against Covid-19 will wane over long periods of time — and that it might not protect as well against new variants. But there’s good news …manipulating the vaccine isn’t difficult.
“The nice thing about these new vaccine technologies is that they are easily adaptable. So it will make scaling up a potential newer version of the vaccine booster easier than what we have experienced in the past,” says Dr. Jay Sizemore, Infectious Disease Specialist at Erlanger Hospital.
Since experts can’t be sure how long vaccine immunity will last, there are only questions surrounding the time frame. Will a booster shot be recommended every 10 years as in tetanus or EVERY year like the flu?
“If that protection were to drop because of further mutations, a booster could be tailored for the mutations and bump that immunity back up. This is very similar to what happens with the flu every year. So what authorities and the CDC are preparing for if we encounter a new variant. If we have a fifth wave or whatever wave we are at at that point, if people are vaccinated all of a sudden become vulnerable. We may have to consider boosters,” says Dr. Baleerio.
So, will we need a covid-19 booster shot and if so- when ? The short answer is – it’s probable but just too soon to tell.
According to health experts, the manufactures of the vaccine are preparing for the possible recommendation for a booster shot. For more information and guidance click here.