NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With the Omicron variant still spreading, there’s confusion as to what we can do next to protect ourselves.

Many want to know do booster shots last long enough, or will we need more shots?

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While most of us are being urged to get a booster shot to be “fully vaccinated,” there are some who are asking: How long does a booster dose’s immunity last?

We know that antibody levels wane over time after any COVID vaccine, CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez said.

Although the data are still preliminary, it looks like booster shots provide good and lasting protection against severe disease with Omicron, which is different than protection against getting a low-level infection with relatively mild symptoms.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

In other words, Omicron infections are less likely to lead to hospitalizations and deaths than Delta infections after a booster.

If booster immunity does turn out to weaken with time, will we need another booster? A fourth shot?

Dr. Anthony Fauci said it’s premature to be talking about a fourth dose, saying it may not provide significant additional immunity and some scientists have warned that some immune cells might eventually stop responding to the vaccine if too many doses are given.

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In any case, both Pfizer and Moderna are developing an Omicron-specific vaccine, different from a booster, that could be ready in a couple months.

COVID VACCINE

Is there something other than the Omicron variant driving this huge spike in COVID cases?

Every patient who walks into a hospital gets tested for COVID, regardless of what brought them to there. Turns out, anywhere from 25-50% of those patients who end up testing positive for COVID had issues unrelated to the virus, yet their numbers contribute to the spike.

Still, all of those patients put a terrible strain on health care resources and staff.

Public health experts say we won’t get past the pandemic until we address a stunning contradiction in our behavior. We see intolerably crowded hospitals literally right down the street from crowded bars and arenas, often filled with unvaccinated people.

Experts say we cannot return to normal until we address the behaviors that are driving COVID infections.

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Editor’s note: This story first appeared on Jan. 10.

Dr. Max Gomez