HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is preparing for a third round of vaccinations for many Americans.
The Biden administration is expected later this week to recommend that the majority of Americans get a booster after their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to ensure longer-lasting protection as the delta variant spreads across the country.
Boosters will be recommended for individuals eight months after being fully vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
VDH Chief Deputy Commissioner Parham Jaberi says it is common for vaccine immunity to wane over time.
“We know all vaccines, over time, lose a little bit of their efficacy, and here we're looking at again improving our immunity against up with that additional dose,” said Jaberi.
The comes after health officials recommended boosters just last week for some with weakened immune systems.
The FDA still needs more information to determine whether a booster shot will increase immunity for those who received the Johnson & Johnson shot.
“This doesn't mean that the vaccine is not effective; in fact, it's the opposite. It’s because it is effective and can protect against illness we want individuals to get that other shot and other dose to make sure that immunity stays high,” explained Jaberi.
Long lines, crashing websites and a lack of access and information plagued the initial rollout of the vaccine early this year, but VDH expects this third round of doses to go much more smoothly.
“At this point, we have a much greater and more abundant supply. We need to still think strategically; we still want to follow the CDC guidelines in terms of who to vaccinate first, and then again, given it’s that eight-month window, we know that there's going to be a natural progression that's going to follow what we set up in January, February, March,” said Jaberi.
VDH says right now, there’s no telling how many more shots people will need in the future to protect against COVID-19.
“We're going to have to protect the community through vaccinations, and we're going to have to wait and see whether those are additional boosters or whether it will be new formulations of new vaccines that work more effectively against new strings,” said Jaberi.
VDH says community clinics like the one at Military Circle Mall will continue serving the public through the fall.
Currently, free COVID-19 vaccinations are available at Military Circle Mall on Tuesdays from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. throughout August.