How long will the COVID-19 vaccines keep you safe from the coronavirus?

Woman preparing COVID vaccine- how long does the COVID vaccine last?
Photo via Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S./Flickr (Public Domain)
  • It’s unclear just how long the COVID-19 vaccines keep you safe
  • The Modern CEO believes they could last “a couple of years”
  • Immunity for elderly patients might not last as long

Multiple COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out across the country, and the first vaccinations have already been given. With news of a new, more contagious strain spreading, however, many potential recipients are wondering how long the COVID-19 vaccines will keep the inoculated safe from being infected with the coronavirus.

It is not yet known precisely how long the vaccines will remain effective. Based on other vaccines for viruses similar to the novel coronavirus, however, the COVID-19 vaccines should last for at least a few years. The chief executive of Moderna confirmed this on Jan. 7, noting that Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is expected to protect against the coronavirus for “at least a couple of years.” 

“The nightmare scenario that was described in the media in the spring with a vaccine only working a month or two is, I think, out of the window,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said. “The antibody decay generated by the vaccine in humans goes down very slowly … We believe there will be protection potentially for a couple of years.”

Immunity for elderly patients may not last as long, due to their immune systems typically being less healthy than younger patients.

It is currently also unknown how long naturally acquired immunity from COVID-19 lasts. Reinfection is possible in as little as under a year, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that even those who have already suffered a case of COVID-19 still get vaccinated.

Moderna is in the process of proving its vaccine to be equally as effective against the new variant of COVID-19, according to Bancel. This new strain appears to be more contagious, but experts believe the vaccines will work just as well against it. 

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Sources: Reuters, WebMD, CBS News, CDC

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