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If COVID-19 vaccine needs booster, will there be a rush again?

We're still not sure when and if people will require follow-up shots to the COVID-19 vaccine, but if so, the process should run more smoothly than the roll-out.

DENVER — It’s still unclear whether people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine will have to get more shots down the road to maintain immunity as you would with an influenza vaccine.

“With influenza, there’s such rapid change in the virus from year to year that we have to have a new shot…a new vaccine every year,” said Dr. Thomas Campbell, chief clinical research officer at UCHealth. “This is nowhere near the amount of variation that we see in strains of influenza from year to year.”

But as the novel coronavirus mutates and creates variants that spread across the world, Campbell said it is likely people will have to receive booster immunizations armed to target the new forms of the virus.

“It’s very likely that a booster might be needed at some frequency after the initial vaccine,” he said.

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The initial rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, while impressive because of the speed of its development, has been frustrating to many. An initial lack of supply has led states to have to prioritize people by risk level, granting access to the vaccine to those with the highest risk first.

The short supply has caused long waitlists, and in some cases, a mad rush for vaccines.

Campbell does not anticipate that kind of rush when boosters are necessary.

“I don’t think that we will have quite (sic) the imbalance that we have right now between supply and demand,” he said.

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“The companies are continuing to scale up. Their factories will be running at high capacity, so they’ll be able to produce it faster.”

Campbell also said the demand won’t be as severe when more people are vaccinated.

“There won’t be as much of a pressing need because the current vaccines are highly effective against the variant – they still work well particularly for preventing severe and critical illness.”

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