Each week, OMRF Vice President of Research Dr. Rod McEver opens “Adam’s Journal” to answer a medical question from Adam Cohen, OMRF’s senior vice president & general counsel.
I participated in the clinical trial of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, which means I received my initial shots much earlier than most people. As a result, I was also boosted earlier – in May 2021. Is it time for me to get another booster?
Dr. McEver Prescribes
Although your situation differs slightly from most who’ve been vaccinated and boosted, the question you’re asking is on many people’s minds.
Happily, a series of studies have shown that three doses of the vaccines appear to be sufficient to protect our bodies from serious illness and death for a long time. As a result, federal regulators have indicated that, at least for most of the population, they will not be recommending a fourth dose any time soon.
Our immune systems have multiple levels of defenses against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The first and easiest to measure are antibodies, and studies have demonstrated that, especially after a third shot, most people make a wide variety of antibodies that will prove difficult for any variant of the virus to evade for significant periods of time.
Those who were exposed to omicron or other variants will have received an additional antibody boost, thanks to their immune responses.
Even as those antibodies wane, other parts of our immune system – especially those known as T cells – will retain a deep memory of the virus. For most, that memory should trigger a strong immune response to the virus or its variants, even if exposure comes months or years from now.
Researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and elsewhere continue to study the virus and its effects so that we can better answer questions like this. It is certainly possible that experts will eventually recommend additional boosters for those over 65, and they have already done so for immunocompromised people. Scientists may also develop specialized boosters for new variants that emerge.
In the meantime, especially because studies suggest diminishing returns for extra boosters using current vaccine formulations, the wisest approach is patience.
Do you have a health query for Dr. McEver? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your question may be answered in a future column!