The success of the COVID vaccine has been increasingly effective since the beginning of its administration, even with the thousands of mutations that have occurred up until this point. With this in mind, it is likely that due to the sheer speed at which the coronavirus mutates that a yearly vaccine update or a booster shot may be included during physical exams.
The virus has shown to have flu-like mutations and will likely need to have the vaccine updated yearly to counter the new strains. Dr. Richard Besser poses the question on if the coronavirus will be something that will have to be dealt with indefinitely, especially as it mutates and adapts quickly even with preventative measures being put into place constantly.
Dr. Besser, who is the current president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, also speculates that COVID is likely to become an endemic disease, meaning it will likely always be around, though not always at the same level as it is currently. These constant mutations impact our ability to fight it and make it necessary to keep up to date defense as these mutations and adaptations can create more infectious disease or a less effective vaccine. Scientists are still debating on whether a booster shot or a yearly vaccine will be the best course of action.
Another important detail that experts are worried about surrounds the current system of vaccinations in the United States; experts are stressing the need for the US to update and improve their vaccine distribution procedures to prepare for the possibility of yearly vaccinations or booster shots. Summer Johnson McGee, the dean of the University of New Haven’s School of Health Sciences, states: “We need to plan and prepare our health care infrastructure and the public to engage in mass vaccinations every year…[and] we need to learn how to do mass vaccinations more efficiently and with greater participation,” by doing this, the process will become easier annually and the target number of vaccinations can be reached more quickly.
Of course, this is all under the pretense of a perfectly distributed vaccine system, it is unlikely that vaccination goals can be reached in the time frame desired, but it is not impossible if the effort and trust between the country and citizens can reach a happy medium. Generally, the public has seen gradual improvements in the acceptance of the vaccine and we are beginning to see some of the benefits through a small decline in new cases.
As of February 6, new COVID cases had dropped nearly 20% compared to the previous week, however, with the US now standing at a world leading number of 27.3 million confirmed cases and nearly 471,000 deaths, more work is yet to be done.