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How long will the COVID vaccines protect you?

You may be among the millions of people in the United States who have taken at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Or you may still be awaiting your turn. But there's a question on everyone's mind: How long will the vaccine really protect us?

It's still too early to tell when you may need to get a COVID-19 shot after you're fully vaccinated. Next year? The year after that? In the 2030s?

The vaccine process is complicated, and variants might throw off an already complex process of determining the vaccine's efficacy.

“Right now, we're very optimistic that at hopefully protection will last at least for a year and maybe longer," said Dr. Michael Hogue, PharmD Dean of the Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy.

Dr. Michael Hogue from Loma Linda University explained there’s no way to really  know right now what the timeline will look for future COVID-19 shots. 

“Some of the newer variants that have come along, we just don't know how high your antibody need to be to protect against those variants," said Dr. Hogue. "We'll have to monitor that very closely.” 

It's still a fluid situation. Medical experts are learning more everyday about the efficacy of the vaccine and if it declines as time passes. 

“We've never seen vaccines with efficacy above 90%. and I'm talking about even in the face of the variants," said Dr. Brian Hodgkins, PharmD and EVP of Clinical Operations for Desert Oasis Healthcare. "Those are very positive markers and things that we hope to rely on. We just don't know yet how long they're gonna last.” 

Now Pfizer’s CEO announced that people will likely need a third shot within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. Moderna is planning for a booster shot as well.

"As long as we still have community transmission, we may need the boosters to further protect our society and community," said Dr. Hodgkins.

For Thomas Ames, it's not an issue. 

“I have no problem with that meaning that what is needed for one to stay healthy for me is what I would do no questions," said Ames.

Dr. Brian Hodgkins said having more people vaccinated will actually help keep new variants from forming in the first place. 

“If the virus can't find an uninfected host, it just can't mutate," said Dr. Hodgkins. "So these vaccines are so effective right now at decreasing asymptomatic, spread or even infection at all. But it, the more people we vaccinated right now, we're going to decrease the pool available for this virus to mutate.”

The studies into how long vaccines are effective are still ongoing and the experts mentioned had as time goes on, we’ll be learning more and more about even if we will need those booster shots. 

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Dani Romero

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