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USF Health virologist Dr. Teng answers your questions about possible long-term effects of COVID vaccine

USF Health virologist Dr. Michael Teng says while the vaccines are new, the technology behind them has been used before.

On 10 Tampa Bay, we’re committed to keeping you up to date with all the latest COVID-19 news.

That’s why every week we are taking your questions to a local medical expert to talk about what’s going on. From the latest on where Tampa Bay stands with vaccines, to monitoring the COVID-19 variants, we’ll continue tracking information.

Dr. Michael Teng, PhD., is a virologist at USF Health.

Here are some of the questions we asked this week:

Q: Moderna and Pfizer shots already require the second dose, going forward we may need a booster shot to maintain our vaccination. How do they work?

 “It makes the immunity better and stronger. It's like if you're learning to read, right? So, the first thing you're reading, you're reading like nursey books. You're reading Dr. Seuss and that's the first shot. The second shot is training you to read, so it's giving you higher level books to read.”

“If they give a booster, it might be for the variants, like the B1351 variant, because it's just a little bit different. So, it's just training your immune system, ‘hey, also recognize this guy.’"

Q: A recent poll shows nearly 1 in 3 people in the U.S. said they definitely or probably will not get the COVID-19 vaccine. How will that impact herd immunity? 

A: "People not getting the vaccine is kind of two problems: It's a herd immunity problem, but also those people are going to get infected at some point. The virus doesn't care who you are, how old you are, male or female, young or old. It just wants to find a body that doesn't have an immune system that's geared to blocking its infection."

Q: Are there any long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?

A: “We don't know because the vaccines are brand new. These technologies are not new though, and these technologies have been used in the past in different scenarios and there haven't been reports of long-term effects of these particular vaccine platforms. So, if it was going to be an effect of the platform, there's no long-term effects.”

You can send your questions to 727-577-8522 and we might answer them on 10 Tampa Bay Brightside.