What experts say you should expect for future COVID-19 shots

“The goal is to make COVID boosters an annual thing.”
The first COVID-19 shot targeting a specific strain other than the original is now available.
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 4:59 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The first COVID-19 shot targeting a specific strain other than the original is now available.

How often will the shots be changing? How often will you need one?

There are only six spots for your COVID shots on the CDC vaccine card. Experts say that’s not going to be enough as new vaccines are created in response to new strains of the virus.

“The goal is to make COVID boosters an annual thing. So just like the flu vaccine, you need a booster every fall. The goal is to make it so you get a COVID booster every fall as well,” said Dr. Melissa St. Germain, Vice President of Children’s Physicians and Urgent Care.

But it’s not about the seasons with COVID.

“There’s really no evidence that COVID-19 is following any kind of seasonality,” said Dr. Mark Rupp, Chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at UNMC.

New strains emerge because of the virus’ biological wiring to evolve and reproduce. Since the pandemic began, there’ve been more than five dominant variants and subvariants of COVID.

“If past is a predictor of what’s going to happen in the future, then yes, I think we should expect...some variant to occur,” said Dr. Rupp.

Because of the way the COVID vaccine is made, it’s not too difficult to target specific strains moving forward, similar to the flu shots.

“The beauty of the mRNA vaccine platform is that you can relatively quickly change that mRNA message that’s given to your body,” said Dr. Rupp.

“This is going to look much like influenza where when we give little kids that influenza vaccine for the first time, they get two doses in one year because that helps build their immunity up. And then every year thereafter, you just get one a year. COVID vaccines are very likely going to look very similar to that,” said Dr. St. Germain.

So while experts don’t know when a new variant would pop up, they say you should expect it. And expect more strain-specific boosters as well.