Dr. Fauci Says We "Almost Certainly" Will Need a Booster Shot by This Time
The White House COVID adviser says this is when you'll have to roll up your sleeve again.
If you're fully vaccinated against COVID and wondering when you'll have to sit down for another dose, you're not alone. The timing of booster shots seems to be the question everyone is asking experts now that many people in the U.S. have received their first shot—159 million to be exact, according to May 19 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Doctors, public health officials, and pharmaceutical companies have given various predictions on booster shot timing and now, White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, is sharing his timeline.
During an Axios virtual event on May 19, Fauci said vaccinated people in the U.S. will likely need an additional shot sooner than you might have hoped. "I think we will almost certainly require a booster sometime within a year or so after getting the primary [shot]," said Fauci. "Because the durability of protection against coronaviruses is generally not lifelong."
Studies from Pfizer and Moderna only extend to six months at the moment, but both companies have found that their vaccines maintain significant efficacy over at least that timeframe. The lack of data has led some experts to give more conservative estimates as to when you'll need a booster shot, but most officials agree that you likely won't need another dose until about a year out from your first.
Booster shots have become a hot topic as Pfizer and Moderna's respective third doses of the vaccine are in the works and on the horizon. During an International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations briefing in April, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said the booster shot could be ready by "late summer, early fall." Bancel said the plan is for the third shot to target variants as well as bolster potentially waning immunity.
In April, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC that he also predicts people will need an additional shot within a year of getting the first round. "There will be likely a need for a third dose, somewhere between six and 12 months," said Bourla. "Then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed."
Recently, Peter Marks, MD, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, shared a similar prediction. "You know, it would be nice if it'll turn out that it'll be a year before anyone might need a booster," Marks said on May 18 during a virtual press conference with high school and middle school journalists, CNBC reported.
Since booster shots are not something the average person can control and experts predict you won't need to get one for a while, they're not worth worrying too much about, says Ashish Jha, MD, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. On May 11's COVID: What Comes Next podcast from Providence Journal and the USA Today Network, Jha said while he has "no idea if or when we will need a booster," he predicts we won't need them any sooner than a year after initial vaccinations. "Vaccine-induced immunity is quite good," said Jha. He added that he expects immunity to last "at least a year but probably longer," but only time will tell.