SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Many of you have been reaching out wondering if COVID-19 booster shots will be needed in the future and what that will look like.
“The short answer is we don’t know yet,” said Baystate Health President and CEO Dr. Mark Keroack.
Health experts are pretty sure we will eventually need a booster shot, but they're still figuring out specific details.
“It’s likely as individuals, who are vaccinated, will need a booster vaccination for the coronavirus at some point in the future in the fall or winter,” said Dr. Robert Roose, chief medical officer at Mercy Medical Center.
Keroack added, “I’d be surprised if we need boosters every year. It might be every two years, year, three years.”
All three companies currently offering COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. - Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson - are developing booster shots, but as millions of people are fully vaccinated, many of our viewers have reached out with questions and we are getting answers.
Merri from Greenfield asked: “When will the booster shots be available and how can we get them? Signing up early would be a great idea. I'm high risk and over 65."
We asked Roose, who said there's not a straight-forward answer to that question, but he has an idea.
“I think it’s an expectation and a reasonable one that, with a virus like this that can cause so much illness and death, that we should expect it should become part of our routine annual vaccination plan, similar to the influenza,” Roose added.
The most common questions we've gotten from viewers, like Llyod, have asked "Will people have to get the same booster as their initial vaccination, or will changing brands be allowed?”
Again, Roose can’t say yes or no for sure yet, but he told Western Mass News it most likely won't matter.
“It may not matter what you had this fall or this winter, but you will just get what is proven to be effective on the strains that are active in the fall or winter,” Roose explained.
Health experts are comparing it to the yearly flu vaccine offered, where three to four brands are offered each year
“Nobody asks what brand they are getting. They all just assume it’s the same, but in fact, they are made by different companies, using the same process,” Keroack said.
According to the CDC, for the flu vaccine, "no preference is expressed for any influenza vaccine over another… there are many vaccine options to choose from, but the most important thing is for all people six months and older to get a flu vaccine every year.”
Keroack said a COVID-19 booster shot will probably follow the same guidelines.
“We’re going to have three or four different brands and no one is going to know the difference,” Keroack noted.
So, there is still a lot of unanswered questions, but one thing doctors believe everyone will agree on surrounding COVID booster shots, according to Roose, “my guess would be, we will be eager to receive whatever type of booster vaccine we need to be protected against the variants that are present at that time.”