I-Team: If You’re Vaccinated, Is Another COVID-19 Shot Needed?

With Johnson & Johnson, Morderna and Pfizer’s CEO’s all saying annual COVID-19 vaccinations, similar to flu shots, are likely needed, the I-Team’s Jim Otte examined the latest medical data and went to a top Miami Valley infectious disease doctor and pharmacist for answers.

“How often would we have to do it,” Riverside’s Amee Andriozzi wondered as she held her two year old daughter waiting to recovering her second COVID-19 vaccination outside Beavercreek’s Greene County Public Health clinic.

“I mean, we have to get a flu shot every year. Are we going to do this every year?” Andriozzi added.

Digging for answers, The I-Team took Andriozzi’s question to one of the Miami Valley’s top infectious disease and COVID-19 vaccine authorities.

>> Lawmakers introduce bill to legalize sports gambling in Ohio

Dr. Steven Burdette is a Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine graduate, where he is now a professor. He also treats Miami Valley Hospital COVID-19 patients.

Burdette said the latest data shows vaccines are effective and continue to protect people from the virus.

“Excellent efficacy for nine months,” Burdette said of the Moderna vaccine,” Burdette said. “I would not expect much difference for the Pfizer vaccine.”

The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study looked at how well health care personnel, first responder, and essential workers’ vaccines are working.

The study’s authors concluded the protection level continues to be 90 percent effective.

Dr. Burdette said that is consistent with other research.

“The efficacy for Moderna, at least, is shown out to nine months now. I would not expect much difference for the Pfizer vaccine,” Burdette said.

While people who have been fully vaccinated are now protected from the virus, Burdette said it will not last forever. However, the future booster shot’s timing is uncertain.

“By this fall the vaccine will still be effective. So I expect for this year we will not have to re-dose Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccines. Now, next year, three years, five years we’ll probably get another dose at some point,” Burdette said.

Not everyone is willing to get the vaccine.

“I guess the side effects, you know, just if it’s going to make you sick, how long would you be out, how long would you have to stay home from work, just the unknown,” Kettering’s Nasasha Phillips said.

Researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, or IHME, who work at one of the world’s largest, independent, research centers, say vaccine hesitancy is a part of the reason.

“Facebook runs a survey every day, and we look at that data on a daily basis and that’s shown that vaccine confidence in the U.S. has been slowly but steadily going down since February,” IHME Director Dr. Chris Murray said.

“There’s a lot of people out there, and it’s a growing fraction of people, who are not sure they want to get the vaccine, and that’s really important that we overcome that,” he added.

>> Investigation continues into Route 4 crash that killed 4

During an April news briefing, Ohio Dept. of Health Medical Director Dr. Bruce said 95 percent of Ohio doctors are recommending people be vaccinated. That leaves five percent of doctors telling their patients it is not recommended.

Gov. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, said despite vaccination clinics opening their doors to walk-in patients who do not need an appointment, the supply is exceeding demand. The governor is now using TV advertising to promote vaccine acceptance.

For those who want a vaccine booster, Cedarville University’s School of Pharmacy Prof. Zach Jenkins, who also practices at Middletown’s Atrium Medical Center, said the next vaccination round is likely to be administered at a local pharmacy.

“It’s not going to be an annual thing. The data seems to be indicating that immunity will be lasting longer than a year. My guess would be every so often you would need a periodic update,” Jenkins said.

With company CEO’s expecting a third vaccine round adjusted for variants at some point in the future, Dr. Burdette said the public should be ready.

However, the doctor cautions even the vaccines do not provide blanket immunity for everyone.

“There is no 100 percent effective vaccine. People will get infected after getting the vaccine but the numbers are so small the clinical data and real world data have matched up very well,” Burdette said.

What happens next depends on how people feel about the vaccine.

Those who are hesitant may stay away, feeling that is the best way to protect themselves.

Others, like Amee Andriozzi may find themselves back in line at some point in the future. For her, she says it is a matter of protecting her children.

“I’ll do what I have to keep them safe,” Andriozzi said.

Johnson and Johnson’s booster shot is also undergoing clinical trials. That vaccine was recently brought back onto the market with a warning, after being temporarily pulled over blood clot concerns.

One way medical professionals say those who plan on being vaccinated can help prepare for a booster shot is not to laminate or permanently cover your vaccination card. That will be needed again when the time comes.