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VERIFY: Do you need the COVID-19 vaccine every year? It's too early to know

A viewer wanted to know if the COVID-19 vaccine, like the flu vaccine, is an annual shot.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — As thousands of Americans across the country urgently line up to roll up their sleeves, questions about the COVID-19 vaccine continue to roll out.

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Good Morning Show viewer Judy Knighten asked, "With this COVID-19 shot, will you have to take it every year, like you do the flu shot?"

Credit: WFMY



To VERIFY the longevity of the COVID-19 vaccine, let's look at some comparisons.

Mayo Clinic explains researchers have to tweak the flu vaccine every year, because flu viruses evolve so quickly. When you get the flu shot, your immune system produces antibodies to protect against the viruses included in that year's vaccine. But, antibody levels can decline over time, which is why doctors recommend an annual flu shot. Note the regular flu shot, like the COVID-19 vaccine, does not contain live virus (though the flu nasal spray does).

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Compare that to the varicella vaccine -- the 'chicken pox shot' -- which does contain live virus. The CDC explains live virus vaccines generally have long-lasting immunity. Several studies show people vaccinated with both doses have antibodies for at least 10 to 20 years after vaccination. Effectiveness was 97% in the first year and held stable between 81 to 86% after that.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins explained scientists are still looking into COVID-19 vaccine immunity, but a finger prick research study out of London found antibody response diminishes over time and was most dramatic in the 75-and-older age group. Experts believe immunity from a natural infection lasts only two to five months.


Vaccine developers are looking at ways to boost effectiveness for longer immune protection. So, experts conclude it is too early to know if you will need a COVID-19 vaccine every year. They stress getting the vaccine now is the best way to help us reach herd immunity in the future.

Do you have a VERIFY inquiry? Submit a post, screen shot or selfie video to Meghann Mollerus via:

Facebook: Meghann Mollerus News

Twitter: @MeghannMollerus

E-mail: Mmollerus@wfmy.com

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