NOVEMBER 9, 2021 — Editor’s note: This op-ed by Bernard Arulanandam, immunologist in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology and vice president for research, economic development, and knowledge enterprise; and Neal Guentzel, microbiologist in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology; originally appeared in the San Antonio Express-News.
As long as SARS-CoV-2 continues to circulate—and individuals refuse to immunize themselves to prevent transmission and the onset of new coronavirus variants—additional shots, whether they be called part of a vaccine series or boosters will likely be required, particularly for those who are most vulnerable.
The ongoing debate about COVID-19 vaccine boosters centers on adaptive or acquired immunity, which includes the body’s specific learned responses against disease agents.
The waning of the antibody responses to current COVID vaccines suggests diminished protective immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus without a booster shot.
Immunologist Bernard Arulanandam and microbiologist Neal Guentzel of UTSA penned this op-ed for the San Antonio Express-News.
Given this reality and the global interconnectedness that impacts us all, our nation’s medical community is considering several questions:
Many vaccines, like those for COVID-19, work through B-cells by creating a comprehensive system of antibodies that protect the body from disease agents like viruses and frequently their variant forms. These “neutralizing” antibodies prevent disease-causing microbes and their toxic products from binding, as through the spike protein on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to receptors on the body’s target cells. These vaccines also produce longer lived protective “memory” B-cells that learn and mature through a series of random and beneficial mutations.
Over time, however, and particularly with increasing age and other immune-compromising circumstances, the body’s response to a vaccine decreases and an added dose of a vaccine is necessary to boost the immune system. This booster strengthens the body’s ability to continue to fight off infections.
Getting a scheduled vaccine series that includes boosters is already a well-documented regimen globally to fight a variety of infectious diseases. Hepatitis B vaccine, for example, is currently administered to newborns at birth. Two subsequent doses are administered at ages 1 to 2 months of age, and 6 to 18 months. This vaccination regimen creates significant long-term immunity against the Hepatitis B virus and ensuing liver disease.
Research clearly shows that one dose of the measles vaccine isn’t enough to protect against this disease. Lifelong immunity against measles is conferred only after a two-dose regimen. Long-term immunity, the kind needed for the best possible protection against diseases, requires the continued presence of protective antibodies through long-lived memory B-cells. Scientists call this maintenance of immunological memory.
The current debate over the COVID vaccine booster further fuels the need for additional research insights to identify new markers that better predict vaccine durability.
UTSA students, faculty, staff and community members are encouraged to raise their voices and participate in the upcoming joint primary runoff election. Any registered Bexar County voter may vote at the H-E-B Student Union Bexar Room (HSU 1.102).Bexar Room (HSU 1.102), H-E-B Student Union, Main Campus
Join fellow UTSA accounting alumni for this fun-filled event that includes breakfast, a round of golf, an awards luncheon and great prizes. All proceeds from the tournament benefit student scholarships.Canyon Springs Golf Club, 24405 Wilderness Oak, San Antonio, TX 78260
UTSA students, faculty, staff and community members are encouraged to raise their voices and participate in the upcoming joint primary runoff election. Election day is Tuesday, May 24. Any registered Bexar County voter may vote at the H-E-B Student Union Bexar Room (HSU 1.102).Bexar Room (HSU 1.102), H-E-B Student Union, Main Campus
Please join us Wednesday, May 25, 2022 for a discussion with Colonel (ret) Michael Davis, MD, FACS, FRCS (Hon), former Director of the U.S. Combat Casualty Care Research Program. Dr. Davis will discuss how to best identify strengths at UTSA that can be effectively leveraged for funding proposals to the Department of Defense.UTSA Business Building University Room (2.06.04), Main Campus
UTSA is excited to introduce new flexible learning spaces available to the Roadrunner community. During this orientation, interested faculty will be guided through examples of innovative learning activities supported by these spaces and provided with an overview of relevant technical features.Virtual Event
Do you find yourself more worried than usual about our students? Would you like to feel more confident in your ability to provide support or assistance to them? We are pleased to announce this new brownbag professional development opportunity for you, Compassion Fatigue Training, that will be offered June 1, 2022.Faculty Center Large Conference Room (JPL 4.04.12C), Main Campus
The Faculty Coffee Chat is designed to provide faculty members the space to discuss current issues they are facing in an inclusive and supportive environment.Virtual Event
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