As COVID-19 vaccines continue to roll out worldwide, you might wonder about the possibility of a COVID-19 booster shot in the near future.

Not long ago, on the 11 of December 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued approval for the first COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in those 16 and above. Hence, the distribution of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine in the United States began. [1

Thus far, the COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19. Now, experts and vaccine specialists are working tirelessly around the clock to research and prepare for the possible need for COVID-19 boosters shots in the future.

Amidst great efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible, many authorities, agencies, and citizens alike have started pondering whether people would soon require booster shots. Here’s what we currently know about these COVID-19 boosters shots. 

How long does the Covid-19 vaccine give you immunity?

Experts do not know for sure how long the immunity and protection provided by the COVID-19 vaccines will last. [2] However, Pfizer-BioNTech has released a statement clarifying that the protection should last for a minimum of 6 months after receipt of both doses. [3

Though the vaccines do not guarantee 100% protection, they still reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 upon exposure to the virus and lessen the chances of severe illness and symptoms if you get infected with the COVID-19 virus. 

Will you need a Covid-19 booster shot?

More than one shot is needed for many vaccines to confer enough protection and keep infections at bay. These shots are known as booster shots. Some vaccines you will require a booster shot for include the Tdap, shingles, and pneumonia vaccine. [4

COVID-19 booster shot

You may be familiar with the Tdap vaccine that prevents tetanus, a disease that can lead to severe illness and death. For this vaccine, adults will require a booster shot every ten years. This booster shot acts to remind the body about the pathogen or germ that causes the disease. Hence, the body continues to build antibodies against the pathogen in case of an infection. 

While some vaccines, such as the measles vaccine, provide lifelong protection, the influenza vaccine requires an annual ‘booster’ shot. This shot teaches the body how to form antibodies against different mutations and variants of a quick-evolving virus. 

Based on previous experiences with the coronavirus that causes the common cold, a vaccine for the common cold provides natural immunity. However, this immunity does not last a lifetime. Likewise, you may require a booster shot for the COVID-19 coronavirus in time to come to maintain protection from COVID-19. Plus, experts believe that the immunity provided by COVID-19 vaccines will wane over time. [6

They do not currently know how long the COVID-19 vaccine’s protection will last, but even if it provides long-term protection, the emergence of new COVID-19 variants and strains makes COVID-19 booster shots even more likely. [6

possibility of booster shots

When will I need COVID-19 boosters?

Many companies, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, have begun developing booster shots that aim to combat breakthrough infections, waning immunity, and new variants or strains of the COVID-19 virus. [7

However, it’s not apparent when these boosters will be available or when you need to get them. Other than that, researchers are in the midst of figuring out how often you will need to get the COVID-19 booster shots. It could be every year, every 18 months, or maybe once every two years. But the truth is, no one can tell for sure, yet. [7]

What happens if I choose to skip the booster shot?

If booster shots are recommended in the future, skipping them could mean you have less protection against COVID-19. An individual who decides to skip the booster shot could be predisposed to a higher risk of getting infected with COVID-19 than another person who chooses to take the recommended doses. [8

If you choose to give the booster shot a miss, you may have greater protection against the COVID-19 virus compared to someone who was not vaccinated at all. However, you may also have lesser protection than an individual who receives the COVID-19 booster shot. [8]

If I’ve received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, can I get a Moderna COVID-19 booster shot or vice versa? 

Scientists and experts are currently investigating the effects of mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccine brands/types for two-shot vaccines. 

So far, reports from the U.K. have demonstrated that those who received a different type of vaccine for their second shot were more likely to experience mild and common side effects such as fever, chills, or headache. However, these side effects were temporary, and there were no other significant safety concerns. [9

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are both mRNA vaccines. Currently, though, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have declared that COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable, even between brands of the same type. [10

COVID-19 booster shot

Hence, even though the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are the same type of vaccine, the CDC states that the same product and brand should be used for both shots. This is because the safety and efficacy of mixing these products have yet to be evaluated conclusively. [10

This recommendation may change in the future. If new studies and research shows that brands are interchangeable, this may help facilitate and ease the distribution of COVID-19 booster shots.

Disclaimer: The information is accurate to the date of publishing. Some of the information may currently be outdated or no longer applicable.

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