CLEVELAND — We've been hearing a lot about the need for COVID-19 vaccine boosters, but the big question is when we will need them? New information is coming out saying we may get to wait months, if not years longer.
But there are a lot of factors that play into that theory.
A study in the journal Nature showed very high immune responses in people who received the mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) that could potentially last years.
That could mean vaccinated people will be protected over the long term — at least, against the existing coronavirus variants. But older adults, people with weak immune systems, and those who need immunosuppression drugs may need boosters. Those who survived COVID-19 and were later vaccinated may never need a booster. But all this depends on the virus.
U.S. health officials aren't convinced that boosters are needed anytime soon. Last week, CDC officials said there's no clear data supporting boosters right now but they'll continue to monitor the evidence.
How will we know when it's time? Big time, breakthrough infections.
"If there's an increase in hospitalizations and deaths in the vaccinated populations, which as of yet, we're not seeing a huge increase," says Dr. Amy Edwards from University Hospitals' Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. "There's a few upticks here and there where there's been a couple of extra cases in vaccinated individuals, but not necessarily with severe or deadly COVID-19. Just symptomatic."
One other note about the study: They did not test the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. This research only applied to the mRNA vaccines. But research is ongoing. Dr. Edwards also thinks extra vaccine here should be sent to countries that need it because if we can get the virus under control elsewhere, it will only help us to manage it here.
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