COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Infectious disease experts have said during the COVID-19 pandemic that a single course of vaccination may not be enough to protect people long-term. Recently, vaccine makers have agreed.
Vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna have both pointed to people needing coronavirus booster shots or re-vaccinations in the future. CEOs from both companies said this week more shots are in the works.
Albert Bourla, Pfizer's CEO, said on Thursday that another dose of the vaccine was likely needed within a year of receiving the initial two doses. Bourla said the third dose should be expected between six months to a year.
Moderna's CEO Stephane Bancel said on Wednesday that there is hope of booster shots being available in the fall.
Sara Humm with the Columbia/Boone County health department said, "Just like the flu shot that we have every year, (coronavirus) could become something like that."
Humm said viruses tend to mutate, just like the flu that changes every year, a coronavirus vaccine could be something that is needed annually to protect against the variants.
Adam Wheeler with Big Tree Medical Home agrees that the flu gives experts a good point of reference with its enhanced ability to mutate. "We know it changes so much each year that your vaccine last year doesn't really matter that much," said Wheeler.
Dr. David Kessler, who runs the vaccine effort under the Biden administration, said a factor in the booster shot decisions is the spread of different coronavirus variants and having further vaccines to target those strains.
Humm said the length of the vaccine protection is still unknown and experts will continue to monitor people in months to come to learn more about time frames around boosters. Recently, Pfizer released data showing its vaccine still had a high level of protection for at least six months.
Wheeler said he doesn't expect this to bring more vaccine hesitancy and instead thinks that this will give people who already decided against vaccination another reason not to get it.
Kessler emphasized the vaccines currently available gave protection against all known COVID-19 variants. He added there are steps being taken to make boosters more effective against specific variants.
Laura Morris, MU Health Care's vaccine co-chair, said the MNRA platforms for the vaccines are designed to change direction on the form of the virus that they are addressing by substitution for new variants.
As of Thursday, more than 125 million people in the US have received at least one dose of a vaccine. This number includes close to 78 million who have been fully vaccinated by Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine.
Morris said, "We have to get everybody vaccinated with their first dose before we worry too much about the boosters."
The vaccine has since been paused by the FDA after multiple instances of blood clotting were reported. An investigation is underway to see if the blood clots were caused by the vaccine.
The CDC has scheduled an emergency hearing on the vaccine for April 23.