Now that masks are no longer required for fully vaccinated people in most spaces, it's more important than ever to make sure the vaccine is protecting you as best it can. Experts predict that over time, the vaccine's efficacy will wane, causing you to need a booster shot at some point down the line. While you should feel confident you're protected for the time being, health experts are already offering their best guess as to when you'll need to sit down for another shot. And according to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, you might need a booster sooner than you think.
Axios reached out to Bancel via email to get his take on when those who got the Moderna vaccine would need a third shot. On May 19, the CEO predicted an eight- to nine-month gap between your original Moderna vaccination and a booster shot. "People at highest risks (elderly, healthcare workers) were vaccinated in December/January," Bancel said. "So I would do [a] September start for those at highest risk."
Saying that he didn't want to take any chances, Bancel added, "I think as a country we should rather be two months too early than two months too late with outbreaks in several places."
During an Axios live event on May 19, the timing of booster shots was on everyone's mind. Multiple experts weighed in on when they thought the time would come for another shot, including Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Bourla also believes that those who were vaccinated earliest could be up for a third dose as early as September. "The data that I see coming, they are supporting the notion that likely there will be a need for a booster somewhere between eight and 12 months," he said.
White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, agrees that a booster shot in the near future is likely. "I think we will almost certainly require a booster sometime within a year or so after getting the primary [shot] because the durability of protection against coronaviruses is generally not lifelong," Fauci told Axios. However, some experts believe we may be able to wait longer than eight months to a year.
On May 11's COVID: What Comes Next podcast from Providence Journal and USA Today, Ashish Jha, MD, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, predicted that you won't need a booster shot sooner than a year after your first round. "Vaccine-induced immunity is quite good," Jha offered. He expects immunity to last "at least a year but probably longer." While experts have made their best predictions based on what they know, the decisions surrounding booster shots rely on data that has not yet been acquired.
The longest duration the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been studied for is six months, so experts know very little about how the vaccine behaves beyond that. An April 6 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the Moderna vaccine is 94 percent effective after six months. Meanwhile, Pfizer shared a study on April 1 that found its vaccine is 91 percent effective six months after the second shot.