While appearing on the Mike Farwell Show on CityNews 570 Friday, Dr. Kelly Grindrod, associate professor of pharmacy at the University of Waterloo responded to Ontario's plans to expand eligibility for COVID-19 third doses to more people.
Some of the controversy surrounding booster shots has to do with whether wealthy countries should be delivering them while other countries are still working on delivering first doses.
Grindrod said that part of the issue is figuring out how to best protect ourselves when new variants emerge, but it could be the case that COVID-19 vaccine may have required three doses all along.
"A lot of vaccines are three dose vaccines, think of the hepatitis vaccines, for example. So, it wasn't entirely surprising that another dose, a third dose came because that's pretty typical of vaccination. This may always have been a three dose vaccine. That's the question that's being answered right now. This isn't just the prize booster," she said.
Grindrod said that while people may question the long-term data for COVID-19 vaccine, the part that scientists are actually interested in and need to look into, is how long immunity from the vaccine lasts.
But, she said that it's a problem that wealthy countries have enough vaccine to vaccinate their population three times, while other countries that are middle-income, or in the developing world, have trouble delivering first doses.
Grindrod said, "They're having a hard time getting first doses in because they don't have supply, or they have a hard time getting the doses out that they actually get in. Or, that the members of their public aren't familiar with the vaccine or aren't willing to accept the vaccine and they're struggling with some of the vaccine hesitency."
She warned that as long as we keep having those pockets that are unvaccinated, we will keep seeing worse and worse variants come up, like we've seen with Omicron.
Grindrod explained that as scientists look into how long COVID-19 immunity lasts in people with the vaccine, they will also determine who needs third doses.
And, this may not include kids and teens.
"Kids' vaccine is 10 micrograms. The adult doses are 30 micrograms. We give a lower dose to kids, not because they're tiny, but because their immune systems are so strong. We don't know if kids and teens are going to need a booster either. Two doses may have been fine for them," she said.
Grinrdod added that a lot of research is coming and there is the possibility that COVID-19 vaccine could become a vaccine that's required annually, or every five years.
However, she said she suspects the vaccine may eventually be similar to the flu vaccine once the risks are lower, and once most of the world has some immunity to COVID-19.