COVID-19 Booster Shots Unnecessary for Now—Vaccines More Essential

In a June 18, 2021, article in MedPage, David M. Aronoff, MD, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, suggests that any worry about individuals needing extra "booster" vaccine doses is premature. Instead, he urges, we should be focusing on vaccinating more people and preventing the spread and emergence of variants.

"While we do not know how long meaningful vaccine-induced immunity against SARS-CoV-2 infection will last, it seems to be on the scale of 8 to 12 months, if not longer," he writes. "If the pandemic were to completely end during the next year, we might be able to hold off on booster shots, firing them up only if any new COVID-19 hotspots arise. But, it seems clear from the ongoing activity of COVID-19 in many parts of the world that the pandemic is far from ending anytime soon. And SARS-CoV-2 variants just keep coming."

The Delta variant appears to be more contagious and dangerous than previous variants—and is becoming more predominant in the United States. However, good news has emerged that the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose vaccines are effective against it.

That's why Dr. Aronoff believes it's more important to use our existing vaccine supply to immunize, rather than re-immunize, people both in the United States and abroad. Controlling the pandemic in our country and all over the globe—deploying abundant U.S. vaccine supplies to countries with less access, for instance—will delay or defray our need to get boosters here. "A major goal of mass vaccination is to make it hard for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to find susceptible victims," Dr. Aronoff writes.

"There may come a time when we are strongly compelled to begin administering booster shots, either with existing vaccines or new variant-targeting ones," he continues. "But that time is not now. Let's help get the unimmunized in the U.S. and abroad protected as soon as we can. Slowing the pandemic through widespread immunization is our key to delaying the need for booster shots."

Read more of Dr. Aronoff's article here. And learn more here about scheduling your COVID-19 vaccine from Vanderbilt Health or a location closer to home. Vaccines are available to anyone age 12 and older, even if you've never been a Vanderbilt patient.