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University of Minnesota seeks volunteers for vaccine booster research

The study is now extending to those without any underlying health conditions, as vaccine immunity wears off and the delta variant spreads among the vaccinated.

MINNEAPOLIS — If you’re one of the millions of people deemed fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, doctors say prepare to roll up your sleeves yet again as the CDC and Biden Administration are set to recommend a third booster shot, at least eight months out from your second dose. 

"There’s no safety concerns; the side effects are similar to what happens after the second dose," said Dr. Amy Karger, associate professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Minnesota.  

Dr. Karger says boosters are being recommended as the coronavirus continues to mutate. 

"There have been a lot of studies that have shown there are robust antibody responses that last for months, some have even speculated that they thought the vaccine immunity lasts beyond a year, but what has thrown a wrench in this is the delta variant," said Dr. Karger. 

Dr. Karger is also the director of SeroNet, a research program at the University of Minnesota studying immune responses to booster vaccines, primarily in those who are immunocompromised.  

"The need for boosters in immunocompromised really came to the forefront because of several small studies over the last few months that have clearly shown that there are subsets of immunocompromised people who just do not respond well at all to the vaccines," said Dr. Karger. 

That study is now extending to those without any underlying health conditions, as vaccine immunity wears off and the delta variant spreads among those who are vaccinated.

"This idea with boosting currently vaccinated people -- the hope with that is that we can kind of bring their level of immunity a step higher and maybe prevent them from being able to spread the delta variant," said Dr. Karger. 

As for whether or not booster shots are going to become a regular thing for years to come? 

"I'm always an optimist so I'm hoping we can finally get on top of this, but there is a concern as long as there’s unvaccinated people out there where variants can continue to mutate. There’s always the concern that something worse than delta could come along," said Dr. Karger. 

Researchers are still waiting on data from Johnson & Johnson on its vaccine before determining whether or not a second booster is needed. 

For information on how you can volunteer in the University of Minnesota's SeroNet vaccine booster program, click here

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