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Will you need a COVID-19 booster shot? It may still be too early to tell

"I left my crystal ball at home," said one local doctor who was asked about booster shots, even though he admits he personally believes boosters may be needed.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Will everyone have to get a COVID-19 booster shot? Right now it's tough to answer. 

"First of all, I will preface all of this with that I left my crystal ball at home today," said Dr. John Goldman, an infectious disease specialist at UPMC, who added "I personally think we'll need boosters. I think it's possible, I don't know if it's likely, that we'll need them as early as the fall."

Dr. Goldman said the coronavirus is a moving target that is mutating rapidly with new variants. He said so far the current COVID-19 vaccinations are doing well at protecting people against the variant. 

"The big question is, 'are we going to get a variant that is going to evade the antibodies of the vaccine where the vaccine wont work," he said. 

The chief scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO) said last week WHO can't make a recommendation on boosters yet as the science is still evolving. 

Meantime in Pennsylvania mass vaccination sites are beginning to close as interest in the vaccine is beginning to slow. On Tuesday, UPMC vaccinated nearly 300 final patients at its drive-thru clinic on HACC's campus adding to the nearly 30,000 people the site has already vaccinated.

"We've gotten through the people who are easy to vaccinate. We're coming up on the people that are either hard to convince or hard to reach," said Dr. Goldman.

Dr. Goldman said if a booster is needed, it likely wouldn't be hard to convince people who were enthusiastic to get vaccinated to receive the booster shot. However, getting the people who were already apprehensive back in line may be a bit tougher. He also recognized if boosters are needed those mass vaccination centers will also likely to be needed again.

"We will still have to give a booster shot to 200-300 million people (nationally). My guess is that we will need large vaccination clinics," he said.

Boosters shot or not, Dr. Goldman stressed the effectiveness of the current vaccines against the virus. 

"To a great extent, with or without a mask, deciding not to get vaccinated is deciding that you do want to get the virus. You will get it eventually," he said. 

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