race for a vaccine

What to Know About the Prospect of COVID-19 Booster Shots

Timeline: Pharma companies say maybe by late summer; Dr. Fauci believes it could be later

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As the number of fully vaccinated people in the Bay Area and across the nation grows daily, discussion of COVID-19 booster shots has ramped up, though the timeline is still in question.

The heads of pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna have said boosters may be needed by September, though infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci says it could be later than that.

"We know that the vaccine efficacy of the durability of the vaccine lasts at least 6 months. … I think we will almost certainly require a booster sometime within a year or so," said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Front-line health care workers got the first round of the authorized vaccines in January, and if a booster is needed, that group would be first in line again.

A bottleneck for boosters, similar to what was seen when the initial vaccines rolled out, shouldn't be expected, as there are now three vaccines available, and the supply and distribution chains are more steady and reliable.

Meanwhile, initial vaccinations continue. In Santa Clara County, 75% of people 16 and older are at least partially vaccinated. Nationwide, the ratio is 60%.

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