Will people really need a yearly COVID booster vaccine?

(HealthDay)-As the number of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 reaches hundreds of millions, immunologists and infectious disease experts are now asking new questions about the evolution of the pandemic. ..

That is, how long vaccine Immunity lasts, and do people who get jabs need booster shots to maintain their protection?

According to experts, weakened immunity in the face of more potent COVID-19 mutants could lead to a surge in future infections and, in the worst case, a full-scale reinstatement of quarantine and blockade. Is an important question.

Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota, said that after vaccination or spontaneous infection, a person’s immunity is always weakened to some extent.

But does the immunity to COVID decline rapidly, as in the case of the flu or cold, or does it last as long as in the case of illnesses such as measles and whooping cough?

“Antibody levels decline over time, which applies to all vaccines we give,” Poland said. “I’ve never been vaccinated against the coronavirus, so the question is really free.”

People’s immunity to the seasonal coronavirus that causes the common cold rapidly declines. So you can catch a cold many times.

However, vaccines developed against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID appear to produce high levels of antibodies that protect against weakness.

One of 3,900 recent studies Health care workers According to Poland, COVID was tested weekly and about 5% were positive between December and April. However, of the 204 sick, only 16 were completely vaccinated against COVID-19.

Poland said the infection rate for fully vaccinated people was “0.3%.” “And if you were vaccinated and had a punched infection, the viral load was 40% to 50% lower and the chances of fever were almost 60% lower. If they did, they spent two days in bed less than unvaccinated people. “

And that’s the main factor in deciding if you need a booster. Is the vaccine successful in the most important job?

Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital and an advisor to the US Food and Drug Administration, said: And the pharmacy office.

By that standard, experts like Poland and Ofitt believe that it is unlikely that most, or perhaps everyone, vaccinated will need a booster immediately.

Even in the face of newer and more infectious mutants such as the Delta mutant that emerged in India, existing vaccines were able to prevent serious illness in fully vaccinated people. Stated.

Ofit made a similar point.

“I think it’s much easier to prevent severe and serious illnesses and it’s much more likely that you will have longer lasting protection against severe and serious illnesses,” he says. I did. “If that is the goal, I think the vaccine will last for years.”

Even if this kind of lasting protection is proven, you may still get snuffs from COVID, but you will not land in the emergency room.

“Even if you are vaccinated and you are not wearing a mask, the virus will invade your nose and throat. It will still start breeding itself. Still, it can cause some symptoms before. Immune system It will be activated. “

Experts tracking COVID hospitalization have two factors in mind when assessing the need for boosters: the health of each person’s immune system and the development of new coronavirus variants.

According to Poland, people with weakened immunity (smokers, diabetics, obese people, the elderly) need booster shots sooner if statistics show high landing rates in hospitals. There is a possibility of becoming.

On the other hand, young people with a healthy immune system may have years of protection.

Experts say it’s too early to tell.

“Looking at a significant number of people who are fully vaccinated and have a serious illness enough to be hospitalized, it will certainly be a signal that boosters are needed,” said Dr. Dial Hewlett, MD. Stated.Director of Disease Control, Westchester County Health Department, White Plains, New York

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading federal infectious disease expert, said protection is not endless.

“I think we’ll need a booster someday,” he recently told the US Senate Subcommittee. “What we now understand is what the intervals will be.”

The current main concern is “well different from the unprotected wild-type virus, but allows the body to think it is something that has already been seen and to infect it without checking.” The emergence of variants. Poland said.

Therefore, public health professionals are calling on as many people as possible to be vaccinated as soon as possible. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States has just passed the midpoint and more than 50% of people over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

President Joe Biden’s goal is to have at least one vaccination in 70% of the country by July 4. However, the rate of new vaccinations has slowed recently and is now less than 600,000 per day.

“The stage we are in is a desperate competition between vaccines and mutants,” Poland said. “If we can all get immunized very quickly and don’t allow the delta mutant to gain a base, I think we’ll be released from home.”

Poland pointed out a promising model.

“There are models that show that achieving a vaccination rate of 50% of the total population can prevent about 6 million additional COVID cases,” he said. “This is very important because if the virus cannot infect, it cannot replicate. If it cannot replicate, it cannot mutate.”

According to Poland, the issue of booster vaccination may be controversial if the COVID vaccine is to be included 2: 1 in annual influenza vaccinations, as some pharmaceutical companies are investigating. Maybe.

“Well, you need to get the flu vaccine every year. What if you wrap the two together? You may not need the coronavirus component, but as long as you get the flu vaccine, it will boost your immunity anyway. , “He said.

Coronavirus Vaccine Q & A: Is it safe? Are they effective? Do you need a booster?

For more information:
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has COVID-19 vaccine..

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