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How often will you need to get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster? Here's what a local doc says

WSYM FOX 47
WSYM FOX 47
 2021-04-16
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The number of new COVID-19 infections across the country is trending in the wrong direction. In just the past month, the U.S. has seen a 30% increase in new cases.

In Michigan, Beaumont Health System is sounding the alarm as hospital capacity reaches critical levels. At least 24 hospitals are already reporting they're at 90% capacity and some Beaumont hospitals are setting up outdoor tents for triage.

Vaccinations are ramping up in the state and officials are hoping to outpace the spread of the virus, but 4 1/2 months into 2021, there are still a lot of questions about how long these shots are good for.

As of now, we're told Pfizer and Moderna shots are still good at six months, and officials are hoping it's good in a year.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people are likely to need a booster dose of the vaccine 6-12 months after their first round. From there, it will be an annual re-vaccination, similar to the flu shot.

"A lot of vaccines are boosted. Some give lifelong immunity but not that many," Dr. Matthew Sims, the director of infectious disease research at Beaumont, said. "The ones that give lifelong immunity tend to be the diseases that give lifelong immunity if you got the disease."

Even if the initial vaccine protection lasts far longer than six months, experts say the rapidly spreading variants of COVID-19 are concerning.

The B.1.1.7 variant spreads about 75% faster. But what determines when we will need another shot? It's a two-part answer. Part one, Sims said, is seeing how long immunity lasts.

Part two, he added, is how often we get a variant that the vaccine is not good at fighting. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are working on a booster with the South African variant.

Researchers at Stanford Medicine and Cincinnati Children's Hospital say they've started testing the Pfizer vaccine in very young kids.

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