Dr. John Brownstein answers your questions about COVID-19 vaccines

The epidemiologist and professor at Harvard Medical School discusses how long the vaccines last, whether it will become annual, and how effective they are against variants.
3:42 | 03/11/21

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Transcript for Dr. John Brownstein answers your questions about COVID-19 vaccines
normalcy? To down the latest I ABC contributor Dr. Brownstein. 1 in 4 American adults have received their first vaccine. What's the latest on how long these vaccines last and are we going to have to get another covid-19 vaccine like our annual flu shot? I think that's a huge question right now, how long will immunity last when you get the vaccine? Of course, we're only a few months into getting this vaccine, so the data is limited. But the thought is that while antibodies might wane over time, we have strong t-cell protection that could last us well into a year. We still don't know the data so CDC is trying to be as cautious as possible in giving out recommendations. As these viruses mutate and become variants, there is a thought that potentially a booster applied one to two years should be something we should be looking at in the future. There have been concerns about the three major new covid-19 variants in several countries across the world, including 51% of these new cases in New York City. How effective are the vaccines at protecting us against these variants? We've been watching these variants now for several months. We've always known they were going to take hold in the population. The great news is, across the studies we've seen, both in the real world and in the laboratory, the vaccines do really well against these variants. So for the time being, we think actually the vaccines are fairly equivalent when it comes to the regular strain and these new variants. But it also tells us that we have to do more to get these vaccines out to populations to stop these variants from taking hold, because we know that they're more transmissible, from there could lead to more hospitalizations and deaths. All of us want to get this pandemic behind us but six states have announced they're loosening restrictions like mask mandates and indoor capacity limits. Is this happening too fast, too Yeah, this is very concerning. It's a complex time where we have variants and vaccines going on at the same time. The data is showing we're plateauing in many parts of the country. And so we're really not out of the woods. In fact, the number of cases we're seeing are still much greater than what we had in the summer. So taking our fat off the gas right now doesn't make sense are we should be looking at this more like a dimmer switch, where we're starting to gradually relax our requirements, getting back to normal. Going full-out right now could spell a real problem as we have these variants circulating in the population. And how much are vaccinated people able to ease up on restrictions, to get back to quote-unquote a normal life? We have to remember these vaccines are incredible. They protect against severe illness a the CDC is starting to create recommendations to bring those who are vaccinated back to their normal lives. They can congregate indoors with those who are vaccinated and actually start to see loved ones who are unvaccinated as long as they're not in a high-risk category. They're also not going to have some ofthe same concerns about quarantine if exposed. As we get more vaccines into people, these requirements are going to start to relax even the more we see that vaccine uptake in the community, the better it's going to be for all of us. A final quick question. For all those who are eligible for vaccines right now, what do you say to people who may have to wait as the schedule goes weeks if not months? We're all sort of enthusiastic about getting this vaccine. Clearly we want to get as many vaccines into arms as possible. We're seeing 3 million a day right now. So the pace is really picking up. I expect we're going to see open season on vaccines probably in April so that by the end of may, anybody who wants a vaccine and is eligible should be able to get it. Optimism. We could certainly use that. Dr. Brownstein, thank you for your time. Thank you so much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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