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Dave & Dujanovic: Will we all need a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

FILE - This September 2020, file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows a pharmacist preparing to give an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. The U.S. is getting a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19, as the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021 cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two. (Johnson & Johnson via AP, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Should you keep wearing a mask after you’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19? Also, how long does the vaccination in my arm last? Will I need a booster shot?

Dr. Todd Vento, an infectious disease physician with Intermountain Healthcare, joined Dave & Dujanovic to answer those questions for hosts Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic.

“My answer is ‘yeah,’ I’m gonna keep wearing a mask. Why? Of course I have confidence in the vaccine. That’s why I’m gonna get one. But I just feel like there’s this double layer of protection if I continue to wear masks. Right? That’s my position, but you’re like, no, wrong,”Debbie said.

“‘Better safe than sorry.’ Why not two masks instead of one, why not three instead of two? I don’t know, at some point, we do have to take a victory lap,” Dave said.

Vaccine and booster stats

The Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine was 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe disease 28 days after vaccination, according to STAT.

The Pfizer vaccine showed efficacy of 95% at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection after two doses, 

The Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 after the second dose.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made using messenger RNA or mRNA, a technology that delivers a  genetic code to cells, which makes the surface protein (known as spike) on the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the scientific name of the new strain of coronavirus. 

I got the shot. Do I need a vaccine booster?

“I have the same questions as you do about how long these vaccines last,” Dave told Debbie. “Does this new mRNA technology — does this change the immunity timeline, does it go up, does it go down?”

Dr. Vento said there is not yet a definitive answer on how long immunity against COVID-19 will last from any vaccine, with or without a booster, for all three currently available shots: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

“That’s mostly because we’ve just finished the studies. We’re still collecting that data on individuals who did the study,” Vento said. “We really don’t know how long they’ll have antibodies. . . . They’ll need to be watched for the next year to try to figure out when would be the optimal time for getting a booster.”

Related: Fact Check: What’s in the coronavirus vaccines and how does it work?

“Why can I get a measles vaccine at, you know, 6 years old, and I’m good for life. Aren’t there measles variants, like there are flu and COVID variants?” Dave asked.

“Fortunately, we haven’t seen those types of mutations with measles virus. And we do have to get at least two measles vaccines for protection for life,” Vento replied. “It really just has to do with the uniqueness of each virus or each pathogen, and how they behave, and then how your body makes different types of immune responses to each of those types of pathogens or bacteria or viruses or parasites.”

The vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, commonly referred to as the MMR vaccine, requires a first dose around a year to 15 months and a booster between the ages of 4 and 6. 

Don’t drop that mask

“If the governor here were to lift the mask mandate. We don’t know how long immunity lasts if we’ve been vaccinated. Will you still wear a mask in public and recommend that people wear a mask to the events,” Debbie asked.

“100%. This is what our public health authorities and experts and our Centers for Disease Control are still recommending,” Vento said. ” . . .the reality is we have to get as many people vaccinated so that we don’t allow the virus to grow and grow and grow and make more mutations that potentially could resist the vaccine.”

To keep the vaccines at the maximum level of effectiveness, Vento advised listeners to keeping wearing masks, social distancing and limiting gatherings.

Don’t follow Texas

Texas and Mississippi announced Tuesday that they would be lifting mask mandates and allowing businesses to operate at full capacity.

The “state mandates are no longer needed,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, according to CNBC.

“That’s really a recipe for having more spread, and the opportunity for more mutations, and then loss of our therapies, loss of our vaccine, so it’s not something that we would support in public health,” Vento said.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Obtain a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

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