With over 50% of the United States population having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, many are beginning to wonder about the future of the virus. What will things look like a year from now? Unfortunately, this virus will not be going away any time soon. Instead, COVID-19 will likely stick around similar to the flu, usually getting worse in the winter time and better in the summer months. So now the question remains, will we need a COVID-19 booster shot or several additional shots for the future?
According to Dr. Fauci, the President’s medical advisor, the likelihood that we will need a booster shot within the year is high. COVID-19 is a coronavirus, the type of virus that causes the common cold. A coronavirus mutates quickly and spreads very easily, making it impossible to have one vaccine that completely eradicates it like other diseases such as Smallpox. After you have recovered from the virus, you have protective antibodies for a period of time that prevents you from being reinfected. Although the time frame for antibodies differs from person to person, they do not last forever.
On average, people will test positive for COVID-19 antibodies for 5-7 months after they recover, but it is much less time for some. There have been instances where people’s antibodies go away after only one month, making them vulnerable to the virus again. It is possible to be reinfected again and again. The virus is constantly mutating, and your original antibodies will not protect you forever. If you are exposed to a new variant and your antibodies are running low, there is a strong possibility that you could be reinfected with the virus.
Vaccines are a controlled way of prompting the body to produce antibodies against an illness even if it has not been previously infected. Unfortunately, just like with naturally produced antibodies, the vaccine-produced antibodies only last for so long. This leads to the need for people to have vaccine booster shots every year, similar to the flu vaccine. In addition, every year, they develop a new flu vaccine designed to fight the current strain that is circulating.
Due to the novelty of the virus and its vaccine, there is no official estimate as to how many months the vaccine antibodies will last for the average person. However, almost every vaccine-producing company is saying that an additional dose will likely be needed within the current year. Moderna has already confirmed that they are working on a booster shot that should be available by fall of 2021. Pfizer has not announced a booster shot yet but agrees, saying that a booster shot will likely be needed within the year. The CEO of J&J, the one-shot vaccine, has stated that it is very likely that people will start to receive a COVID-19 vaccine along with their flu shot every year.
The Short Answer
So will we need a COVID-19 booster shot? In short, the answer is yes. A COVID-19 booster shot will be needed at some point, and it will likely be required for the following year. One major vaccine producer in the United States is already working on their booster shot, and it’s expected that the others will not be far behind. COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, as a respiratory virus they tend to hang around for quite a while. This said, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself safe. By getting the COVID-19 vaccine and staying up to date on it with booster shots (when they become available) is a big step toward going back to everyday life.