Doctor predicts you will have to get a COVID-19 shot every year

Dr. Sunil Joshi says COVID-19 will most likely be a seasonal virus

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There’s a good chance you’ll have to get the COVID-19 vaccine every year, according to a Florida doctor.

Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation, said he predicts people will have to get the COVID-19 vaccine every fall or winter, just like the flu shot.

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“Cooler weather tends to allow viruses to spread more rapidly,” Joshi told News 6 partner WJXT-TV in Jacksonville.

Doctors are hypothesizing the vaccine is effective for up to six months, like how antibodies from getting the infection last for three to six months.

“We may need a booster this fall or the upcoming winter, and we’ll potentially have a seasonal vaccine after that,” Joshi said.

Jacksonville resident Cathy Barnwell told News4Jax she’s on board with that.

“We get the flu shot every year, and it’s better than being sick and being in the hospital or everything shutting down again,” Barnwell said.

But Jacksonville resident Kasey Jones said she’s not sure.

Vaccine event aimed at building trust with community
Vaccine event aimed at building trust with community

“Right now I’m not that confident in taking the vaccine,” Jones said. “When I see more people taking it, I’ll feel more comfortable.”

Joshi said COVID-19 will most likely be a seasonal virus like all respiratory viruses. He said that as more people get vaccinated and exposed to the virus, cases will require fewer hospitalizations and become less severe, but the virus is here to stay.

Joshi said even if you normally don’t feel flu-like symptoms after your flu shot, you could feel those symptoms with the COVID vaccine.

That’s because it’s an MRNA vaccine, unlike the flu shot.

“The MRNA vaccines are more likely to cause these side effects than the typical viral vector vaccines our body is used to,” said Joshi.

Joshi said when we get the vaccine our immune system develops an antibody response to the virus.

“The side effect profile isn’t much different from the other vaccines we have, and so I don’t expect it to be different as years go on. It’s just something people learn to tolerate,” said Joshi.

Joshi said although COVID is here to stay, the number of people being hospitalized and having severe cases of COVID will go down as more people get antibodies from the vaccine or infection.

“It should get down to a level similar to the flu, or even better than the flu,” said Joshi.

Joshi said we’re getting closer and closer to herd immunity.

“A few days ago we vaccinated 4.5 million people in this country in one day, so vaccination rates are increasing even in Duval County,” said Joshi.

Joshi said the side effects you felt from your first dose will probably be the same ones you feel with the booster shot later this year.

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About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.