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As the number of COVID cases and concerns over the more contagious delta variant increase nationwide, vaccination has become a hot topic. Half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and public health officials are urging the other half to follow suit.

“Vaccination is the best way to protect you and your loved ones from the COVID-19 virus. Yes, vaccinated people can still contract the virus, especially the delta variant, but the symptoms will be milder, and infection is much less likely to require a trip to the hospital,” said  Dr. John Greene, chair of the Infectious Diseases Program at Moffitt Cancer Center.

Image of Dr. John Greene

Dr. John Greene, Chair, Infectious Diseases Program

Recent study data released by Pfizer and Moderna show their COVID vaccines are still effective, 84% and 93% respectively, six months after completing the two dose vaccination series. But what happens to your immunity after six months?

Greene says your immunity won’t change much six months after vaccination. The phase 3 studies evaluating the vaccines in a large population of participants have only six months’ worth of data, which is why we’re hearing about those figures.

“We do expect immunity will wane as people get further out from vaccination, but it will be a gradual reduction over six to 18 months,” said Greene.

There have been discussions by both Pfizer and Moderna about offering a third booster dose of the vaccine to increase immunity, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are still reviewing the data supporting this.

Many of the breakthrough COVID cases, meaning vaccinated people who have contracted the virus, are among those who received the vaccine many months ago.

“Because of the highly contagious nature of the delta variant and its ability to easily infect vaccinated individuals, we will likely see booster shots become a reality,” said Greene.

The CDC and FDA are expected to make an announcement on the topic in September.