Booster, Rooster? When?

America is moving closer to President Biden’s goal of a 70 percent vaccination rate. At the same time, many people, including me, are asking when and if we are going to need booster shots?

I read about a month ago that protection from my Moderna vaccinations would last about six months. The timing coincided with a trip I am planning to take in September. That is what the roosters in the media were saying back then. You know the roosters that I am talking about, the noisy ones trying to wake us up, so we will do what is good for us and America.

New day, new dawn! Now, the roosters are saying they just do not know about boosters.

Scientists are asking lots of questions, but they do not have many answers yet, according to the New York Times.

One question I really like: Why do we have to get a flu vaccine very year, but two measles shots during childhood can protect us for life? There is an answer to that question, which may be why I like it. Our immune systems are affected in different ways by different pathogens. Measles vaccines can produce lifelong immunity, but tetanus vaccines, for example, cannot. Flu vaccines are so mutable that they require a new vaccine every year.

What does that say about variants? Or, back to the original question: How will the Covid-19 vaccines hold up against the others?

We do not know yet because the other vaccines have been around for a long time. The Covid-19 are newcomers. People just started getting vaccinated a few months ago. But research is underway.

All three vaccines used in the United States – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are being tested to determine how effective they are against the virus. Blood is being drawn from volunteers. Researchers are measuring their levels of anti-bodies and immune cells that target the coronavirus. Levels are not dropping quickly, but they are dropping. Researchers believe that may indicate that vaccine protection will remain strong for a long time. Some scientists estimate the vaccines will provide protection for at least a year. But they are still estimating or guestimating. If this turns out to be true, boosters might not be required for years.

What about those evil mutants, the variants, the roosters have been warning about? Those variants are why the research on boosters is moving so rapidly. Some of those little buggers have mutations that allow them to spread quickly. Other variants might carry mutations that would render vaccines less effective. At this point, scientists have few clues on how effective the existing vaccines are against the variants.

Where does that leave those of us who need to travel or want to travel? In a state of limbo, where we have been for over a year. As far as I am concerned, at some point, risks must be taken. Traveling in September is necessary to restore my mental health. Yes, I am taking my mask.

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