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The Explainer: Why do we need another dose of a Covid vaccine?

Will everyone get a booster vaccine, and how long will booster immunity last?

AS UNCERTAINTY GROWS over the spread of Covid-19 in the run-up to Christmas, the focus on the tools we have to fight the virus has sharpened.

One of these is booster vaccines, to restore waning immunity from earlier jabs – and perhaps boost it even further.

In this week’s episode of The Explainer, we speak to DCU professor of immunology Christine Loscher to examine the science further – what are booster vaccines, who is getting them, and why wasn’t two doses enough?

As of Wednesday this week, more than 660,000 booster doses have been administered in Ireland – with people aged over 60, healthcare workers, and those living in longterm care facilities first up for the jab, with people aged over 50 and those aged 16 to 49 with underlying health conditions next up.

Loscher explained to us that this is not the first time a vaccine booster has been used, and “it’s quite normal to boost vaccines after a long period of time”.

“The viral level in the community is so high which means that we’re being exposed to Covid way more than we have ever been in the pandemic, and that means that the small waning of immunity matters more,” Loscher said.

“Normal waning immunity doesn’t really matter for the most part for vaccines against all kinds of infections that we don’t encounter very much. Look at that in the context of Covid-19, we’re encountering it all the time, which means the waning immunity impacts more.”

To hear more about what boosters are, how the current two-doses of vaccines can wane, why people who received AstraZeneca could be in for an ‘immunity bonus’, and how long third-shot immunity could last, listen here:

The Explainer / SoundCloud

This episode was put together by presenters Michelle Hennessy and Gráinne Ní Aodha, and producers Aoife Barry and Nicky Ryan.

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