Your COVID Vaccine Could Protect You for This Long, Expert Says

The latest estimate is much, much longer than the original guesses doctors put out.

The release of an effective coronavirus vaccine—and the likely approval of a second vaccine this week—has given people hope in this pandemic for the first time in months. But even as the nearly 95 percent efficacy rates for both Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines are being upheld in studies, the public still has many questions about exactly what kind of protections the vaccines will be able to provide, including the length of time they'll be able to keep you safe from COVID. While scientists are still a ways off from being able to officially prove how long the newly developed vaccine can actually remain effective, according to a top medical expert, it's possible that your COVID vaccine could potentially protect you for up to three years. Read on to see what the experts have to say, and for more on what to expect when you get your jab, check out The CDC Is Warning You to Prepare For These COVID Vaccine Side Effects.

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The chief medical adviser for Operation Warp Speed expects protection to last for up to three years.

Side view of doctor preparing vaccine syringe to inject on young patient.
ArtistGNDphotography / iStock

During an on-air interview on Dec. 15, Moncef Slaoui, MD, chief medical adviser for Operation Warp Speed, told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that he was bullish on the doses providing long-term protection from serious illness, if not infection. "Prevention of infection … may be shorter-lasting, maybe lasts three, four, six months," Slaoui said before adding "prevention of disease, in my humble opinion as an expert, is probably going to last a year or two years, three years." And for more on what doctors are worried about in regards to the shots, find out The Biggest Concern Doctors Have About the COVID Vaccine.

Other experts are optimistic the vaccine will protect you for at least a year.

doctor administering covid vaccine to young man

Still, other experts expressed beliefs that vaccine would offer protection for up to 12 months. During a live video interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association on Dec. 14, Peter Marks, MD, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), gave a relatively upbeat estimate when asked for his opinion.

"It's probably at least on the order of four to six months," Marks said. "The question is, will it reach out to a year? Hopefully, yes. But I think we'll have those data in the not too distant future." And for more on who shouldn't get vaccinated, check out These Are the Only People Who Shouldn't Get the COVID Vaccine.

Even Dr. Fauci feels the longer forecast is a possibility.

Patient Getting Vaccinated Against Coronavirus In Hospital
Prostock-Studio / iStock

Only time will tell how long the newly released vaccines are effective, but ever the cautious optimist, Anthony Fauci, MD, believes there may be some credence to the inoculations lasting longer than just a few months.

"From what we know of the duration thus far of immunity, I would be surprised if it turns out to be a 20-year duration, but I would also be surprised if it was less than a year," Fauci told McClatchy in a Nov. 27 interview. "I think it would probably be more than a year." And for more regular coronavirus news, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Others believe it could fall in line with other vaccines.

Woman getting COVID vaccine

Drawing on previous studies, other experts suggested that the time frame for protection from the vaccine could be similar to other shots we get annually.

"It's possible that coronavirus vaccinations will become an annual event, just like the flu shot," Carl Zimmer, science writer for The New York Times, wrote on Dec. 14. "Or it may be that the benefits of the vaccine last longer than a year. We have to wait to see how durable the protection from the vaccines is. Immunity from coronavirus infections appears to last for months, at least, so that may be a hint about vaccines." And for more on when you could get your shot, check out Dr. Fauci Just Said You'll Be Able to Get the COVID Vaccine Even Sooner.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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