COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — Pharmaceutical companies and some officials with the federal government said COVID-19 booster shots and re-vaccinations may be needed in the future.
State health officials say it’s a little too early to tell if those will be necessary.
Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly said, “The thing we do know is that there are many vaccines that last a long time — like a tetanus shot updated every 10 years. And there are other vaccines like the flu shot where you get a booster every year.”
According to DHEC, more than a million South Carolinians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. There’s a possibility they’ll have to roll up their sleeves again within a year.
Dr. Kelly said with every passing day there is new information about the protections offered by the vaccines. She said evidence suggests the antibodies people develop after getting the vaccine could have a long lasting effect.
She said, “We know right now that antibody levels stay high for at least six months. That’s not only six months, that’s at least six months.”
Dr. Kelly went on to say, “We haven’t had vaccine long enough to tell how long it is going to last. It is possible that it will be a more long lasting vaccine.”
When it comes to variants, DHEC said the vaccines we are using now have shown effectiveness against the South Africa and UK variant. Both of those variants have been detected in South Carolina.
State health officials said they have identified more than 300 cases of COVID-19 variants in the Palmetto State.
Dr. Kelly said boosters could possibly be used to enhance protections against these or emerging variants. She said, “I’m glad that Pfizer and the other vaccine companies are looking at trying to tweak their RNA vaccines so they can make sure to change out the letters in their vaccines to match the variants. Will we need that? Maybe, only time will tell.”
Close to 2.7 million vaccines have been given in South Carolina since mid-December.