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Nils Buecheler, a sophomore at Barry University, receives a Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine from Jason Rodriguez, a pharmacy student, at the Jackson Memorial Hospital on April 15 in Miami, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

People will "likely" need a third shot of the Pfizer vaccine as a booster within 12 months of being fully vaccinated, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC on Thursday.

Why it matters: COVID-19 vaccine boosters are expected to become a regular part of life for years to come, as variants continue to spread and become dominant strains in some countries.

What he's saying: “It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus,” he told CNBC’s Bertha Coombs.

  • Bourla also suggested that people may need to be vaccinated annually in order to stay immunized against the virus.
  • Pfizer announced earlier this month the vaccine was still highly effective up to six months after the second dose. The company continues to study how long protection from the virus lasts.

Go deeper

Apr 15, 2021 - Health

CDC: Vaccinated people can still get COVID-19, but it's very rare

CDC director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Erin Clark-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified about 5,800 fully vaccinated people who have contracted COVID-19 so far, a fraction of the 66 million Americans who have been vaccinated.

Why it matters: The infections, called "breakthrough cases," are rare. The findings are consistent with previous studies that indicate positive coronavirus cases are extremely unlikely among vaccinated people, and that the vaccines prevent severe disease.

Updated Sep 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: CDC director maintains Pfizer booster recommendation for high-risk workers — CDC director approves Pfizer boosters, adds eligibility for high-risk workers — FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up.
  2. Health: America's mismatched COVID fears — Some experts see signs of hope as cases fall — WHO: Nearly 1 in 4 Afghan COVID hospitals shut after Taliban takeover — D.C. goes further than area counties with vaccine mandates.
  3. Politics: Bolsonaro isolating after health minister tests positive at UN summit — United Airlines says 97% of U.S. employees fully vaccinated — Mormon Church to mandate masks in temples.
  4. Education: Health care workers and teachers caught up in booster confusion — Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine — Education Department investigating Texas mask mandate ban.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Americans will likely have to navigate a maze of vaccine "passports"

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Many private businesses and some states are plowing ahead with methods of verifying that people have been vaccinated, despite conservative resistance to "vaccine passports."

Why it matters: Many businesses view some sort of vaccine verification system as key to getting back to normal. But in the absence of federal leadership, a confusing patchwork approach is likely to pop up.