CINCINNATI — William VanFossen wanted to know more about booster shots. Specifically, he wanted to know if he needed one.
So he emailed Dr. Louita Edje, a Moderna COVID-19 trial participant, wanting to know if there were follow-ups to her participation in the initial vaccination trials.
He wondered if medical professionals were still monitoring those people and if their status could give everyone else a peek at what is in store for them.
"Absolutely," said Dr. Louita Edje, a Moderna COVID-19 trial participant, when asked if there were follow-ups to her participation in the initial vaccination trials. "We did have a choice to stay in the study or not when we were unblinded, meaning when we were told whether we got the placebo or not."
What Dr. Edje, an associate dean of graduate medical education at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine does not know, though, are the details to regular monitoring checkups concerning the ongoing effectiveness of Moderna's vaccine more than a year after the trials.
"I'm not privy to what that information is," Dr. Edje said.
Dr. Edje does see a reason to keep her 25-month commitment to the vaccine trial, especially when emails about vaccine effectiveness like those from VanFossen are received.
"I would tell him go ahead and get vaccinated," she said. "That is right now, our best protection against the delta variant in particular."
Beyond the effectiveness of the vaccine, VanFossen had other questions concerning the Pfizer and Maderna shots as well.
VanFossen also wanted to know if clinical trial participants such as Dr. Edje have received booster shots yet.
"They have notified that we will probably need a booster and they'll be setting up appointments for us to go ahead and have that happen for us," Dr. Edje said.
In an email, Pfizer confirmed more than 44,000 people who participated in its initial clinical trial agreed to be monitors for two years after their second dose. Of those patients, the company also confirmed it began offering boosters to those participants last month.
Moderna confirmed it began offering boosters in March.
As far as effectiveness is concerned, a study released by Moderna showed its vaccine offered 94-percent efficacy in protecting against the COVID-19 virus.
Pfizer offered a similar result from its study, stating its vaccine offered a 95 percent efficacy rate, adding that the number of "severe adverse events was low" related to the shot.
That does not mean the two-shot vaccines offer permanent protection, or protection at such high rates forever, Dr. Edje said.
"There's actually a study that showed, in nursing home patients in particular, nursing home residents, that there is a decreased effectiveness of the vaccines, the mRNA vaccines in particular," she said.
She added that viruses such as COVID-19 continually mutate, especially among unvaccinated populations. This is the reason behind the most recent spike in infections and the possible need for people to get boosters in the future.
"So, please go ahead and get vaccinated. Don't regret not having the protection you can get from being vaccinated," Dr. Edje said.
The Moderna trial Dr. Edje is participating in wraps up next fall. Pfizer plans to continue its study until January 2023.