UNIVERSITY CITY - As states across the region expand COVID vaccine eligibility, questions regarding the vaccine remain. One of the biggest questions on people’s minds is just how long do the vaccines last.
"Six months is kind of like the floor here. That is the minimum," Doctor John Wherry, Director of the Institute of Immunology at University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, said. "Six months is about the longest data we have from a reasonable sized number of people we can draw conclusions."
What happens after that? Are people still protected?
"Extrapolating from what we know at six months, it’s like we are going to have immunity for easily a year, maybe two or three or longer. The big variable in all of this are these variants we keep hearing about," Dr. Wherry answered.
"How will these variants affect our immunization?" asked FOX 29’s Dawn Timmeney.
"The virus has mutated. The vaccines may be be perfectly matched for some of the variants," Dr. Wherry replied.
"Can you get COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated?" Timmeney inquired.
"The answer is yes, you can. Most of the cases of getting COVID after being vaccinated are either being infected with a variant that the vaccine does not protect you from or people with some background immunosuppression – cancer patients, transplant patients," Dr. Wherry answered.
In Michigan, 246 people who were fully vaccinated tested positive, 11 hospitalized and three died.
"They are relatively infrequent events relative to how many people are getting vaccinated. We delivered 70 million vaccines in this country, so far," Dr. Wherry remarked.
"Will we need a yearly booster like we do for the flu shot?" asked Timmeney.
"I think it’s going to be some time before we know whether we have to get a yearly or maybe every five year booster for the virus. If we see variants really becoming prominent and not being addressed by the current vaccine, I think we have a likelihood of seeing a top-off booster," Dr. Wherry responded.
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