AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – UCHealth is already planning for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, after the CEO of Pfizer announced they’ll likely be needed within 12 months of being fully vaccinated.

The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine (credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

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“I feel like it’s just another thing that we knew was likely to happen,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, Director of Infection Prevention at UCHealth. “The idea behind a booster is to stimulate your immune system. It’s something that your body has potentially now seen before with the first vaccine, so it’s not starting over in terms of the education of the immune response.”

Dr. Barron compares it to the annual flu shot.

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“Sometimes it’s the exact same shot as the year before, but there’s been too much time between when the virus was circulating and when you got your vaccine, and your body doesn’t have the recall to be able to say, ‘Oh yeah, I know you. I can attack.’”

She says she wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an annual COVID-19 shot moving forward, but she said it’s also too soon to tell and that more research is necessary.

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“I think there was obviously hope that the COVID vaccine was something that was one and done, but we are exposed to coronaviruses every year. This isn’t new in itself; it is just the severity of this particular strain is why it made it so different.”

(credit: CBS)

UCHealth says were already in the middle of planning for booster distribution when the Pfizer announcement came out.

Dr. Barron says people shouldn’t be alarmed by the announcement.

“This information should be reassuring on some level that people are paying attention,” Dr. Barron said. “The safety measures and the safety protocols are all in place and are being followed.”

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CBS4’s Andrea Flores reached out to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, and CVS to see if they had any plans in place for booster distribution. A CVS spokesperson responded with the following statement:

“Given that Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, are studying how long the vaccines’ protective immunity will last, we will continue to monitor their findings to guide whether a third shot is necessary as part of our continued vaccine efforts and consistent with whatever future federal and state guidelines are put in place.”