WASHINGTON — Like a kid on a road trip, Americans have been asking top health officials, "Are we there yet?"
And as the answer begins to feel like "almost," with half of U.S. adults (more than 130 million) vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, another question comes into focus: will we need to go through this again? Will we need a booster shot?
Will we need a COVID-19 booster shot moving forward?
Scientists still don't know yet. The CDC says that the need for a booster "has not been established."
- Dr. William Schaffner- professor of medicine, division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center
- Dr. William Moss- Executive Director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins
- CDC- "Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States"
- FDA- spokesperson
“The short answer is we don’t know yet,” Dr. Moss said.
Dr Schaffner agreed: "The latest on booster shots is there are no booster shots yet. And we don't know yet whether we will need them.”
Dr. Schaffner, a professor at Vanderbilt University is also a member of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a third-party committee that analyzes available data and makes vaccine recommendations to the CDC.
“They're being tested so that if we need boosters down the road, we will have them ready," Schaffner said. "So the laboratory work is going on. No recommendations yet. But as we say, stay tuned.”
Moss explained, "there are two reasons for a potential booster dose. One is if the if the protection wanes, over, you know, over time...one year, three years, five years, 10 years, we'll just have to see.”
The second reason is whether variants prove problematic: “there's potentially a need for another dose, maybe I should just call it a third dose if it's felt that we need to immunize people against a new variant.”
In mid-April, both Pfizer and Moderna’s CEOs made comments about potential booster shots in the near future. But public health experts, Like Dr. Anthony Fauci emphasize that they just don't know at this point.
“It is going to be a public health decision, it's not going to be a decision that’s made by the pharmaceutical company," Dr. Fauci said during an interview with NBC's Meet the Press, "We’re partners with them because they’re supplying it, it’ll be an FDA, CDC decision.”
Fauci said he thinks that decision could come by the end of the summer, beginning of fall.
As for the CDC, they write, "The need for and timing of COVID-19 booster doses has not been established. No additional doses are recommended at this time.”
Our researchers also contacted the FDA to find out whether or not they believe booster shots will be necessary in the future. A spokesperson responded that as of right now, the vaccines "remain effective."
"At this time, available information suggests that the FDA-authorized vaccines remain effective in protecting the American public against currently circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2," an FDA spokesperson said in part. "However, if there is an emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variant(s) in the U.S. that are moderately or fully resistant to the antibody response elicited by the current generation of COVID-19 vaccines, it may be necessary to tailor the vaccines to the variant(s)."
So we can VERIFY, there’s no booster just yet, and it’s too early to say whether there will be one in the future.