NewsLocal News


COVID-19 vaccine protections wane over time but continue offering significant benefits

Posted at 6:36 PM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 19:36:29-05

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — More people will likely be getting COVID booster shots in the weeks ahead. Today the FDA and the CDC authorized booster shots of Phizer and Moderna for everyone over the age of 18.

And with that news, a new study from the Veterans Health Administration has detailed just how effective vaccines are six months after people get the shot. On Friday, local doctors are pointing to the study and saying its findings are exactly why many should consider getting a booster now that they are eligible.

When many Americans lined up for the COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year, a shot in the arm brought them a sense of protection. But, months later a VHA study found some of that protection has faded over time.

"That VA study did show that the effectiveness of the vaccine over several months is actually quite lower than what we expected and sometimes even less than 50 percent effective with certain vaccines," says Dr. David Brooks of ThedaCare's Infection Disease Department.

Dr. Brooks says the likelihood of vaccinated folks contracting COVID appears to continually increase as time goes on after the shot.

"Over time we've heard information from the FDA and CDC, that the effectiveness can decline and antibodies can decline," adds Dr. Brooks.

The VA's study, which included looking into nearly 800,000 health records, found that six months after having been fully vaccinated the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is about 13 percent effective, Pfizer is about 43 percent effective, and the Moderna vaccination is about 89 percent effective. But, that's not to say the vaccines aren't offering other protections.

"The facts are clear, if you've been vaccinated, you're less likely to get infected, less likely to get hospitalized, less likely to die," says Dr. Michael Landrum of Bellin Health.

Dr. Landrum says everyone who received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine should consider a booster shot after about six months of their first round of being vaccinated. And with the FDA and CDC's recent approval of boosters., all adults 18 or over will likely be lining up for the additional shot soon.

"It's clear the vaccine still works. People need to know that. We see deaths every week here from COVID-19 at our hospital at Bellin and it's unfortunate because they're now preventable," adds Dr. Landrum.