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Moody says the reason for boosters is twofold: A need for more immunity that decreases over time, or a concern about mutations to the virus.
For example, people need tetanus boosters roughly once a decade because the level of protection wanes as time passes. Meanwhile, drugmakers produce a new influenza vaccine every year because that virus changes so rapidly. And we know the coronavirus has also mutated several times already.
“There’s a lot of things that are at play here trying to figure out exactly what to do,” Moody said.
HOW WILL WE KNOW IF WE WIND UP NEEDING BOOSTERS?
Wohl says it’s key to keep track of the people getting infected.
“If people who are vaccinated start to get sick with COVID-19, we know that there is some waning immunity,” Wohl said.
It’s also important to watch people’s antibody levels.
“It’s a pretty good crude way to analyze whether or not people likely have immunity,” he said. “So we might start seeing that antibody levels are dropping in most people over a certain time point. And that’s when we should boost them.”
IF WE NEED BOOSTERS, WHY BOTHER GETTING A SHOT NOW?
This is otherwise known as the “kick-the-can” theory — why get the shot now if we’re going to have to come back and get another one sometime down the road?
Bad idea, Moody said.
“Getting the vaccine now and getting the vaccine that is available to you now is the right thing to do because the vaccines very clearly prevent hospitalization and severe disease and death,” he said.
“I think those data really can’t be argued against. They’re really strong,” he added. “Now, you know, I get that people want to have autonomy over their bodies, and they want to be able to make their own decisions. And you know, I’m an American, and I support all of that. But I do think that people should educate themselves with real data and see exactly what the data show.
“I can understand the idea of just trying to kick the can down the road, as you say, I think that waiting for the booster shot or waiting for something that’s perfect is probably not wise. There’s a saying in medicine — don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. And I think this is definitely one of those situations.”