How often do you need to get vaccinated against COVID?
Millions of people have been affected by Coronavirus, also known as SARs-COV-2. While scientists and medical professionals continue to look for a cure, the disease’s unpredictable nature has become a source of worry and confusion. Many factors have led people to doubt the effectiveness of COVID vaccines, ranging from new emerging variants to an increase in the number of breakthrough infections.
Some experts believe that vaccine-acquired immunity may fade over time, which is why COVID vaccine boosters have become a hot topic of conversation. On the other hand, given that vaccine immunity may wane, some people want to know if they’ll have to get a COVID shot every year.
COVID vaccines are given in two doses, and a booster shot trial is currently underway
Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Serum Institute’s Covishield, and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines are all available in India and are administered in two doses. While the second dose of Covishield can be taken after a 12-week gap, the second dose of Covaxin can be taken at any time between 4-6 weeks. According to recent reports, Russia’s Sputnik V can be given in two doses separated by 21 days.
However, the search for vaccine boosters continues in India and abroad. Israel and the United States are the first countries to begin administering the third dose of COVID vaccine to immunocompromised individuals.
We have some well-known doctors on hand who will dispel any doubts you may have and provide some helpful insight into what we can expect in the future.
Is it true that vaccine-induced immunity fades over time?
Given that fully vaccinated people are becoming infected with the virus, experts have speculated that immunity may be waning.
“Vaccination triggers our immunity at two levels,” says Dr. Anup R Warrier, Senior Consultant, Infectious Disease & Infection Control, Aster Hospitals, India. “An early B-cell mediated antibody response and a delayed T-cell mediated response.”
“How the individual responds to the vaccine, how efficient and effective the T cell response is going to be, whether the virus mutates over time to evade the kind of antibodies produced by the primary vaccination,” he adds.
Vaccine boosters have an important role to play
Vaccine boosters have recently gained a lot of traction. Given the prevalence of breakthrough infections and the emergence of new variants on a regular basis, the need for a booster dose is growing. The administration of a booster shot is expected to re-expose a person’s immune system to the immunising antigen, which may have been forgotten over time (following previous doses).
Dr. S.N Aravinda, Consultant – Internal Medicine, Aster RV Hospital, JP Nagar, Bengaluru, concurs that vaccine-induced immunity can fade with time. “Most vaccines have a certain time period after which another shot is required in order to reactivate the immune system to produce antibodies, providing protection against a specific disease,” she explains.
He also emphasises that all COVID-19 vaccines have only recently been developed, and that each vaccine has been made uniquely. “Vaccines that produce antibodies for a period of 8 months to a year may only require booster shots every few months to keep the immunity going,” he says, citing clinical trials and findings.
Will COVID shots become a yearly ritual? Will boosters be required on a regular basis?
While COVID vaccine immunity may fade over time, experts believe that we may need to boost your immune system on a regular basis.
“Vaccines that produce antibodies for a duration of 8 months to a year may only require booster shots every few months to keep the immunity going,” Dr. Aravinda says, “depending on clinical trials and findings.”
“Ideally, people will develop herd immunity after a certain point, and vaccination will no longer be required,” he explains.
Is there a distinction between a routine COVID shot and vaccine boosters?
COVID vaccine boosters are a follow-up to the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s also known as the third dose of the COVID vaccine.
According to Dr. Aravinda, the vaccine doses are the same. “The only difference is the length of time it is given for. When the effects of the first round of vaccination are expected to fade, a booster shot is given. The covid shot is given on a regular basis to ensure that enough antibodies are produced to fight the Covid-19 virus if it is encountered “He clarifies.
Vaccine boosters may also protect against prevailing variants because they “invoke a more sustained antibody response” (protective levels for a longer period of time), according to Dr. Warrier. He adds, however, that more research is needed to prove the point.