Mercer Island MD explains why we will likely need annual COVID booster vaccinations

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have approved a COVID-19 booster vaccination for all U.S. adults regardless of previous illness.

Anyone 18 or older can now choose either a Pfizer or Moderna booster six months after their last dose. For anyone who received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, the waiting time was already two months. People can mix and match boosters from any company.

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What has changed after it was only available to certain age groups or risk groups?

“I think a rather provocative question arises at this point: what does it mean to be fully vaccinated if we are now suggesting that people need booster vaccines?” Gordon Cohen, MD, said in Seattle’s Morning News. “Now if you think about it, when we started talking about COVID before there was a vaccine, there was already talk of people getting COVID and then they would have an antibody response that went down after about 30 days.” they had the infection. “

“But now we’ve started giving vaccines, and the original studies that were done by Pfizer and Moderna were two-shot vaccinations and they weren’t followed for very long because of the urgent need to get the vaccines out . “He went on.” Now the question arises: How long do these antibody reactions to the vaccine take? “

There is now the science to back that up, Cohen explained.

At a vaccine development conference in San Antonio a week ago, Cohen said they presented a study looking at antibody levels in people who had received the Pfizer vaccine and those of 787 health care workers in Italy aged 21 to 75 Years ago. Their antibody levels were measured before vaccination, after the second dose, and then one, three and six months after the second vaccination.

“The results showed that antibody levels dropped more than 50% from their peak six months after vaccination,” said Cohen. “So what does it mean to be fully vaccinated?”

“You get your two shots, you think you are good. And then, six months later, your antibody levels are suddenly half what they were at the peak reaction, ”he clarified.

Dave Ross of KIRO Radio asked if that means we will all get COVID at some point and just hope it isn’t bad enough to send us to the hospital?

“I don’t know if that’s necessarily true, but I think the bigger question is – and I think this has been suggested by a lot of people – are we going to get this vaccine for the rest of our lives?” answered. “Data like this, while it’s a relatively short period of time, certainly allows you to conclude that we need an annual COVID vaccine just to raise our antibodies to cope with the declining response to the vaccine.” . “

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Now that we know what we now know about how immunity can wear off over time and the refresher itself may not be perfect, Dr. Cohen, on balance, that he believes the vaccine is safe.

“It has been proven time and time again,” he said. “We’ve given tens of millions of people around the world, and there aren’t any downsides to speak of. Second, the vaccine significantly reduces the severity of the disease in people who get it. And third, it dramatically reduces the incidence of long-term COVID, which can be really harmful to those who have it. “

“So all in all, I believe in the vaccine, I believe it is safe, and I believe it is effective. Although I think we will get it annually to keep our antibody levels high, ”said Dr. Cohen. “My personal recommendation as a doctor is that people should get the vaccine.”

Find a vaccine or refresher appointment near you using the state’s vaccine locator tool or call 833-VAX-HELP.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. on weekdays on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the Podcast here.



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