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September 19, 2021

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COVID-19: Hit Me With the Next Shot

By Karen Kier
Pharmacist on behalf of the ONU HealthWise team

As our nation celebrates its independence, so we are celebrating an opening of live events within the United States! Unfortunately this week, the country showed an increase in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant and there is some concern about its rapid spread.

Although the country did not meet the President's goal for the 4th of July, the country is experiencing benefits from COVID-19 vaccines and that includes the delta variant. Mutated strains or variants are still a major concern for the United States and throughout the world. Globally, we have exceeded 184 million cases of COVID-19 and an effort is being made to distribute vaccines to countries that have lacked access to the shot.  

According to Johns Hopkins medical experts, it takes 6-8 weeks to see a surge or spike with the spread of the infection. This information means that we have not seen the full impact of the delta variant in the United States. Following the delta variant news from the United Kingdom is probably a good model for what is to come in the United States.

This makes the COVID-19 vaccines in the United States as important as ever. It is not too late to get protection from the delta variant of COVID-19 with a vaccine. Studies have shown that the current United States COVID-19 vaccines have protection against the delta variant. A previous infection with COVID-19 does not show the same level of protection against the delta variant as the vaccines. It is just as important with the rise in cases due to the variant to get a COVID-19 vaccine in those not vaccinated whether they have had an infection or not.   

So what if you have been vaccinated, when do you get the next shot (booster)? Presently, there is no one right answer to that question and the studies are still being completed. Good news was published in the journal Nature this week that showed that the mRNA vaccines create strong memory cells against COVID infections. The study by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri pulled cells from the lymph nodes of patients vaccinated with the mRNA vaccines. The study showed that the mRNA vaccine forms what they referred to as a germinal center that creates the memory cells in the body that recognize a COVID-19 infection and send the cells to fight it off. The surprising part of the study was how strong the response was in the germinal center and that this effect seems to last longer than initially thought.

So this could mean that a booster shot may not be a yearly proposition. This challenges the notion that the COVID-19 vaccine will be every year like the flu shot. Understand, this was a small study of only 14 patients and it was measuring if they had memory cells and not if they warded off an infection. It will be interesting to follow these studies as we learn when our next shot will be required for further protection against COVID-19.   

Over 3.2 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given so far around the world and the studies of the vaccine effectiveness with safety data are still being published every week. The latest figures show that over 5,000 studies evaluating COVID-19 treatments and vaccines have been conducted or are currently under consideration.

The New England Journal of Medicine has a website that has all of the studies that have been published in the medical journal in one place. The website includes the latest vaccine study published on June 30, 2021, showing the effectiveness of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines in real-world situations.

Access to any COVID-19 study in the New England Journal of Medicine or the Journal of the American Medical Association is available free to the public without a subscription to the journal. The Ohio Northern University Drug and Health Information Center continue to monitor the world literature to bring the most current news to our local area. The website to submit a question to the DHIC is  https://www.onu.edu/student-life/health-and-wellness-resources/onu-healt....

Feel free to call the ONU HealthWise Pharmacy or talk to your health care professional for more information. ONU HealthWise is offering walk-ins for COVID-19 vaccines. Call the pharmacy to get more information on how you can get vaccinated.  Still not sure about the vaccines, please contact us to answer your questions.