The COVID-19 pandemic started almost 2 years ago on December 12, 2019. Since then, it took roughly 1 year to release a vaccine in the US. So far there are almost ~780,000 deaths in the US with 195M US citizens fully vaccinated or 59.1% of the US population. Now booster shots are available to ages 18 and older in some parts of the country, you might wonder if you should take them. Is there an incentive to?
Firstly, the ultimate goal of the COVID-19 Vaccine is to stimulate the B-memory cells so when someone comes in contact with the same pathogen, there is faster antibody production for infections. The antibodies bind to the COVID-19 virus in an attempt to inactivate them, and the virus will then be engulfed by the macrophages. In a recent study, a team of physicians and public health experts measured the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine over time. They sampled health workers at San Diego Health use in their study. When the subjects got vaccines in March, their early effectiveness for preventing the contraction of COVID-19 was around 90 percent; however, by July, this percentage had fallen to approximately 65 percent. This is an expected response for most viruses. The immunity wanes over time since the memory B cells’ protection against the virus begins to decrease with time because there are just fewer memory B cells specific to the pathogen present in your body. Thus, booster shots are given to remind the body’s immune system about the COVID-19 virus and produce more memory B cells. In a time where delta was the most prevalent virus, the study also found that unvaccinated people were 7 times more likely more to test positive for COVID-19 compared to unvaccinated people, and adults who contract COVID-19 are 32 times likely to require medical attention compared to vaccinated adults who contracted COVID-19. Again, we have to keep in mind, this is not a simple random sample of the whole US population, therefore we cannot fully use these results to reflect what will happen in our community.
Now that we went over the reasons to get the booster, we have discussed what the booster shot is. The booster shot in essence is the same formulation as the current COVID-19 vaccine that you received if you are vaccinated. The only little variation is in the Moderna’s shot: it is half the dose of the initial vaccine. The shot injects mRNA in a Lipid nanoparticle that can bypass our cell membrane because of its small size and nonpolar properties.
The mRNA is used by the cell’s ER to synthesize spike proteins. Since it’s the same formula as the previous COVID-19 vaccines, this means that the booster doesn’t guarantee immunity against the delta and omicron variants. However, it does retrigger your memory B Cells. You should get the booster shot around 6 months after full vaccination since there is a big decreased effectiveness with the passage of time.
With new variants around the corner, Chira Alleles, a co-author in the study stated “Similar findings [in this study] are being reported in other settings in the U.S. and internationally, and it is likely that booster doses will be necessary.” Since there is no huge downside to getting the shot, and if you do not have any underlying health conditions that might put you in more danger than getting COVID-19, I strongly think you should get the booster shot as soon as it is available to you!
What are your thoughts on getting the vaccine/booster shots? Do you think there will be a point where we can achieve herd immunity, or will that be impossible with the rapid mutations?