If You Got Pfizer, This Is When You'll Need a Booster, CEO Says
Some people might need an additional shot of the COVID vaccine sooner than they think.
When you sat down for your last COVID shot, you probably weren't thinking about having to get another dose months down the line. However, as more time passes since you reached full vaccination status, the question of diminished immunity springs to mind. While studies show that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines grant you sufficient immunity for at least six months after vaccination, experts are already predicting the need for a booster shot. And according to the CEO of Pfizer, you could need one as soon as eight months after your last round.
During an Axios live event on May 19, there were multiple questions about the future of vaccination. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla offered his take on when you'll need an additional dose of the vaccine to bolster immunity. "The data that I see coming, they are supporting the notion that likely there will be a need for a booster somewhere between eight and 12 months," he said.
As Bourla pointed out, this means that people who received the earliest rounds of the vaccine could need a booster shot as soon as September or October. The CEO also said that the company is working on "a new version" of the Pfizer vaccine that will help make it easier to distribute and administer. The updated shot "will be a ready-to-use vaccine, so you don't need to reconstitute it, you don't need to dilute it," Bourla said. This vaccine could be stored for up to six months in normal refrigeration, which mitigates the number of vaccines that go to waste due to improper storage.
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel also weighed in on the booster vaccine discussion. In an email to Axios, he wrote, "I think as a country we should rather be two months too early than two months too late with outbreaks in several places." For people with the highest risk of severe disease—such as the elderly population and healthcare workers—who were vaccinated in December and January, Bancel would recommend that boosters begin in September.
White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, also believes the necessity for booster shots is fast approaching. "I think we will almost certainly require a booster sometime within a year or so after getting the primary [shot] because the durability of protection against coronaviruses is generally not lifelong," he told Axios.
But while many experts agree the need for additional doses is imminent, others are not so sure. Cornell professor and virologist John Moore, PhD, pointed out to Axios that there's not yet any proof that we will need boosters. "As of now, we don't have any evidence that protective immunity has dropped to a troubling point, and certainly not for people immunized in December, January, February," he said. "It's hard to say where we will be in November because right now it's May."
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines still boast high efficacy rates through six months, the longest duration they've been tested for so far. On April 1, Pfizer shared a study that found its vaccine is still 91 percent effective six months after vaccination. And an April 6 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that the Moderna vaccine is 94 percent effective after six months. Experts will continue to monitor the need for boosters, and efficacy over time will ultimately decide when it's time for booster shots.