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We’re probably going to need COVID-19 vaccines for years

Experts suggest we may need to be vaccinated for years to come

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Linda Busby receives the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Clarksdale, Miss.

Linda Busby, 74, receives the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in Clarksdale, Miss

Rogelio V. Solis, Associated Press

How many years will you need the COVID-19 vaccine? It could be a yearly process for awhile as the world deals with new variants to the coronavirus, experts said.

How long will we need COVID-19 vaccines?

Dr. Paul Offit, who works with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccine Advisory Committee, recently told CNN it is possible vaccines may be needed to combat the coronavirus for years.

  • “We are going to need to have a highly vaccinated population for years if not longer. This virus is going to be circulating in the world for a long time,” Offitt said, according to CNN.

Currently, the coronavirus continues to spread across the world and mutate into different variants. The alpha variant, for example, started in the United Kingdom and has now become dominant in the United States. Meanwhile, the delta variant, which was discovered in India, has been crippling India, parts of China and the U.K.

  • If the virus continues to spread, there will be more dangerous variants created, Offitt told CNN. A potential variant could even be more contagious.
  • “When a virus is more contagious, you need to have a higher percentage of the population that is protected, immunized, if you’re going to stop the spread,” he told CNN.

COVID-19 mutations worry experts

Paul Bieniasz, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the Rockefeller University, told NPR he has been especially worried that a mutation could be created between first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses, infecting people before they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • “They might serve as a sort of a breeding ground for the virus to acquire new mutations,” he told NPR.

Jennie Lavine, a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University in Atlanta told The New York Times the key to stopping any potential mutations — and turning COVID-19 into more of a cold than anything else — is to get people vaccinated.

  • “So really, the name of the game is getting everyone exposed for the first time to the vaccine as quickly as possible,” she said.