Federal health officials are now saying that as COVID-19 continues to mutate, so too must the vaccine, meaning an annual vaccination, much like the yearly flu shot, will become the new normal.
Dr. Michael Osterholm joined News Talk 830 WCCO's Chad Hartman to discuss the availability of booster shots and why he says it is important to get fully vaccinated.
Osterholm noted that the current vaccines aren't doing an excellent job of stopping infection or transmission, but they are keeping people out of the hospital and the grave.
"In terms of the new boosters, they may play some role in improved protection against BA.5. I don't really know how much," Osterholm said. "They surely are not any worse than the previous vaccines, so that's important to note."
While many remain skeptical, Osterholm says to get as many of the doses of the vaccines as are available to you because "that is what's keeping people, more often than not, out of hospitals, seriously ill, and from dying."
Osterholm has shared throughout the pandemic that as the virus continues to mutate and create new variants, the vaccines we have could become less effective.
The epidemiologist once said that he doesn't support variant-specific vaccines because they could become obsolete by the time they are approved and in arms.
While some of his colleagues are giving their input on what the next few months will look like, Osterholm says he doesn't know.
"I worry when I see colleagues providing definitive information on what will happen in the next months," Osterholm said.
The doctor noted that when he was asked 10 weeks ago where we would be right now, he admitted again that he didn't know, and he said he's glad because the plateau of high cases being seen right now was not something he expected.
"COVID right now is the number four cause of death in this country, and everyone is acting as if it's done and it's over with. It's not," Osterholm said.
Osterholm then addressed comments from some within the Biden administration who have claimed that COVID will become like the seasonal flu, saying that in reality, "we have no clue."
With the virus, Osterholm says everything is on the table, from another variant to the new boosters stopping current strains in their tracks altogether. But, overall, he says the only thing experts know is what is happening at the moment, and that's that people are continuing to die.
"We don't know. I think the most important message I can give to you is that there are 500 deaths a day in this country. Please, get as many doses of the vaccine as you can," Osterholm said.