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Study Suggests COVID-19 Vaccines Could Protect For Years

Linxing He, 90, receives the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at San Diego Co...

Credit: Courtesy of Jeff He

Above: Linxing He, 90, receives the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at San Diego County's mass vaccination site at Petco Park, Jan. 19, 2021.

The need for additional booster shots to combat the pandemic may be fading, that is according to new research on how long protection from the COVID-19 vaccines may last.

The study published in Nature suggests the mRNA Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may protect for years against COVID-19 when both doses are completed, building the case that additional virus protection might not be needed.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

"I think it’s encouraging that as a general rule the general population may not need boosters going forward," said Dr. Christian Ramers, an infectious disease specialist at Family Health Centers of San Diego. "In fact we may have selected administration of boosters for example to older people or immune compromised people who may be more likely to lose that response over time."

RELATED: Expert Says COVID-19 Booster Shots May Be Recommended By Winter

Ramers said the new study examined the cells which produce antibodies that fend off the virus, which were found at least twelve weeks after participants became fully vaccinated.

"We can make projections because these cells that were found in this particular study are very long lasting cells we can say, 'Look, if we found them now they are very likely to be around for a longtime,'" he said.

The study’s researchers called the findings remarkable, but only a small sample size of 41 people were examined.

"The one other thing that is really crucial here is not everybody is the same," Ramers said. "So if we find in these 41 volunteers that there was a really good response, that doesn't mean that the whole population will have a good response."

The single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine was not a part of this study, but Ramers said it just adds mounting evidence of how effective the vaccines are, even in those extremely rare cases where people who are vaccinated get infected.

"If you do get one of those 'breakthrough infections' it’s highly likely to be much milder than it would be otherwise," Ramers added. "Everything points into the direction of the vaccines being very protective."

Reported by Matt Hoffman

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Matt Hoffman
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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