Will You Have To Get The Same Vaccine Every Year?

You will most likely have to get vaccinated against COVID-19 every year, according to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Although data from the clinical trials have shown that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provide substantial protection against COVID-19 for at least six months, further research is needed to determine how effective the vaccines are past the six-month mark (via CNBC). As a result, it is quite possible that you will need to get a third booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine anywhere between six and 12 months after receiving your second dose. After that, you will likely need to be revaccinated every year. 

Pfizer and BioNTech are already testing a third dose of the vaccine to study and understand the immune response against newly emerging variants of the virus (via NBC News). The third booster shot will be exactly the same as the second dose of the vaccine. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently advise against mixing and matching the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines unless it is absolutely necessary, there is no guidance on whether or not a third dose will need to be the same as the first two. In other words, it is still unclear whether or not you can get the Moderna vaccine one year and Pfizer the next.

What is a booster shot?

A booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine that boosts the immune system through reexposure to the virus. The overall goal of a booster shot is to build or strengthen immunity against a particular virus or disease (via WebMD). While some vaccines only require a second or third dose, others require annual revaccination. This is largely because vaccine immunity can fade over time for certain vaccinations, and some vaccines, like the flu vaccine, must be administered every year because the virus is constantly changing and mutating. Epidemiologists believe that this will also be the case for COVID-19. 

While the two-dose mRNA vaccines are equipped to provide protection against all current variants of the virus, the immune response to certain variants, like the one that was first identified in South Africa, may be lower than the immune response to the original strain (via Time). However, a third booster shot and subsequent annual revaccinations could help restore your immunity against the original strain of COVID-19 and boost your immune response to any emerging variants of the virus.