Story at a glance
- More than 41 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been administered in the U.S.
- Two other vaccines may receive emergency use approval from the FDA in the coming weeks.
- Experts encourage people to get vaccinated with any vaccine that may be available.
- We may need future booster shots, for which it may be best to stick with the same company as the original shots.
In the U.S., there have been more than 41 million doses of coronavirus vaccines administered as of Feb. 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With two more vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca/Oxford potentially getting Food and Drug Administration emergency approval in the coming weeks, Americans may have a total of four vaccines they could potentially receive. Some people may be wondering if it is safe or smart to get more than one COVID-19 vaccine.
Experts generally are saying that if anyone has the option to get a vaccine they should, whether it is super effective or less effective. The general purpose of the vaccines is to prevent severe illness and death, and even with a lower effectiveness the vaccines being tested seem to be able to achieve that goal.
It may not even be helpful to get multiple types of vaccines. For example, Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines work in similar ways to activate the immune system. But if people will need additional booster shots or updated vaccinations to cover the new coronavirus variants, it may be best to stick with the same company into the future.
“Getting one kind of COVID-19 vaccine does not make it unsafe or ineffective to get a different kind later,” said physician H. Dirk Sostman, president of the Academic Institute at Houston Methodist, to Healthline. “As far as future boosters, since the vaccine updates will be based on the current vaccines, it may make sense to stay with the same one you started with, but likely this will be less critical.”
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It’s also unlikely that people will have the option of getting another vaccine until everyone who would like to get vaccinated has gotten their shots and if the companies can produce enough doses.
“There's not even going to be enough of either vaccine, let alone both vaccines for much of the population. It will take quite a bit of time for both companies to ramp up production, manufacturing and delivery,” physician Sam Sun explained to WCNC.
Experts emphasize that vaccines are safe. People may experience side effects, but there hasn’t been significant evidence to suggest anyone has experienced adverse effects from getting vaccinated.
There are still a lot of unknowns that will become clearer as more time passes.
“It is currently not clear how long immunity will last after vaccination, and, if re-vaccination is required, what vaccinations people will be offered,” said infectious disease specialist Isaac Bogoch to CTVNews.ca.
It is clear, however, that vaccinations are bringing down the number of cases. Data from Israel shows a 41 percent drop in new cases in people over 60, with 90 percent of this group already receiving their shots.
“Keep in mind that more than 440,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.,” Sostman said. “Don’t add to this grim total. Get vaccinated as soon as you can.”
For up-to-date information about COVID-19, check the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. For updated global case counts, check this page maintained by Johns Hopkins University or the COVID Tracking Project.
You can follow Chia-Yi Hou on Twitter.
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