It’s time to think about your third Covid vaccine dose. That might sound like a premature suggestion when many people are still waiting for their second dose, and millions have not even received one. But Israel has just become the first place in the world to start giving a third, booster dose of the vaccine, and we should watch carefully to see if we can do the same.
There is growing concern that those who received the vaccine earliest in Israel could be the ones who are currently getting infected with the delta variant. Might that indicate their immunity has dropped to a lower level, and that the vaccine’s efficacy wears off over time? Experts working with the Israeli health ministry suggest it is too early to draw such conclusions. The datashows that the vaccine is still largely protecting the most vulnerable against serious illness even at six months and beyond. Even with rapidly rising infection rates, the number of critical cases is only rising slowly.
Having been the fastest country to administer first and second doses of vaccines to a high percentage of its adult population, Israelis now worry their progress is being threatened by the spread of the delta variant. Because they acted quickly and early, the initial vaccine doses were given long enough ago that some people’s antibody levels may be reaching the lower end of acceptability. I spoke this week with a volunteer in an ongoing antibody study, who told me her antibody levels have dropped rapidly. She’s a healthy nurse in her early 60s who works with immunocompromised hospital patients.