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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More time between COVID vaccine doses may help build more durable immunity, experts say.

Why it matters: The three- or four-week interval between the first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines was relatively short — and may help explain why the U.S. is now preparing for third doses.

What they're saying: "When you make that decision to do a three- or four-week interval, it sacrifices length of protection and durability of protection," said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College.

  • He said it was a smart decision to pursue that vaccine interval early on, "because so many Americans were losing their lives from COVID — 3,000 deaths per day — and we had to get people fully immunized."
  • But it also made boosters much more likely, he said.
  • Longer intervals between doses may allow the immune system time to mature, or allow antibodies to improve in quality while dwindling in number, John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Cornell, told MedPage Today.

Between the lines: On Thursday, a report from U.K. health officials offered similar observations.

  • COVID vaccines were more effective against symptomatic disease with at least six weeks between doses than with only three to four weeks between doses, the paper says.

What we're watching: Experts say the eight-month gap the U.S. is planning before third doses could offer a significant boost.

  • "That may be it for a while, we may not need annual boosters," Hotez told MedPage. "This could be the third and done."

Go deeper

Oct 18, 2021 - Health

Over 30 states have limited officials' public health powers

Photo: Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images

Republican lawmakers in more than 30 U.S. states have weakened health officials' authority to implement policies to protect the public against the coronavirus, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers in all 50 states have introduced bills to curb state and local officials' public health authority.

17 hours ago - Axios Twin Cities

Minnesota offers cash and chance at $100K scholarship as vaccine incentive for teens

Expand chart
Data: Minnesota COVID-19 Response; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Minnesota is offering new incentives to shot-wary teens in an effort to boost the state's COVID-19 vaccination rates.

Driving the news: 12 to 17 year olds who get both doses over the next six weeks will receive a $200 Visa gift card, Gov. Tim Walz's administration announced Monday.

  • Kids vaccinated during this period can also enter a lottery for one of five $100,000 scholarships to attend any of the state's public or private colleges or universities.

Why it matters: Public health officials say increasing vaccination rates among young Minnesotans is key to curbing spread of the virus, especially in schools.

Trump blasts “wacky” GOP Sen. Cassidy after “Axios on HBO” interview

Former President Trump on Monday blasted Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) after he told "Axios on HBO" that he is not sure Trump could win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Driving the news: When told that Trump could be expected to win the nomination, Cassidy jumped in saying: "I don't know that."

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