Health professionals weigh in on data about how long COVID vaccines will protect you

NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. – As more people in the area get fully vaccinated, you might wonder just how long the vaccine will protect you. We spoke with two local health officials on what the current data suggests.

Larry Bergner with the Newton County Health Department says right now data is showing positive results on the effectiveness of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. “So far, what I’ve read, research data has shown both the Pfizer and the Moderna, once you have that two shot, you’ve completed the two shot series, you’re upwards of 97% immunized and effective against the Coronavirus.”

Bergner says the latest data he’s looked at suggests we’ll be able to take a booster shot yearly, and he says some research says it may even be every two years. Dr. Eden Esguerra is the Infectious Disease Specialist at Mercy Hospital in Joplin. She’s been looking at the latest research as well. Dr. Esguerra says although there’s not any published data right now, the research is looking promising. “I am very confident there will be a lot of published data soon, but I would venture to say that it would be like the flu vaccine that we will be getting like a booster shot every year or on a definite interval.”

She says there’s another new trend among those that have been vaccinated that’s causing concern some people are getting antibody testing done once they’re fully vaccinated. Dr. Esguerra says that’s not a good idea. “And there’s a reason why that is not being recommended, i.e., that you measure antibodies, because then you start being doubtful, like ‘oh my God’ maybe I need a third shot, or another kind of vaccine, I have received a Pfizer or the Moderna, maybe I need the Moderna if I got the Pfizer vaccine.”

That’s because research right now says you typically only have antibodies after a recent COVID infection, and the way the vaccine works, it may not show up on an antibody test.

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