‘Really hard to say’: DHEC officials discuss possibility of annual COVID-19 shots

COVID shots could become yearly, but it's too early to know for sure.
COVID shots could become yearly, but it's too early to know for sure.(Source: WMBF News)
Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 6:54 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine are now a reality as immunocompromised people are starting to get them.

Soon, it will likely be a reality for every other fully vaccinated person

Health officials expect the general public will likely be able to get booster shots later this year, due to studies showing immunity from the initial two doses of the vaccine gets weaker over time.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says people should get booster shots eight months after getting fully vaccinated.

When it comes to the more distant future, that is a bit less clear.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell says the COVID-19 shot could become yearly like the flu shot.

“If the coronavirus changes over time from one year to the next like the flu virus does, then we may see the need for annual dosing to get the best protection in the population,” she said during a media briefing Wednesday.

However, it’s still tough to tell for sure at this stage.

“It’s really hard to say,” Bell said.

Bell also talked about what should be expected for people with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when it comes to booster shots.

“Studies are still examining the efficacy or the need of a booster dose for the Jansen vaccine,” Bell said. “Those are being conducted right now. But the emergency use authorization that the FDA amended to allow for the third dose for immunocompromised individuals is only for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at this time.”

Bell also released data regarding cases of COVID-19 in South Carolina schools.

She added that well over 200 students statewide have contracted the coronavirus since they started tracking that data on Aug. 2. In addition to that, 61 teachers have tested positive for COVID-19.

A 16-year-old student in Lancaster County died as a result of COVID-19, while Bell also brought up the recent passing of Horry County School Board member Ray Winters.

He’s the second school board member in Horry County to die after contracting the coronavirus.

When it comes to children, Bell says it’s important to remember they may still have to quarantine even if they don’t test positive, since kids in close contact with positive cases have to isolate.

“The entire class does not need to be sent home. Only the close contacts. There are options to shorten the quarantine period to seven or ten days, but schools may decide whether or not they’re going to adopt those options,” she said.

Bell says it’s important for people to get the vaccine if they have children who are too young to get the vaccine so they’re protecting both their child and themselves.

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