Talks of booster shots for the COVID-19 vaccines have been gaining traction over recent weeks with case counts rising and new variants emerging.

“Right now, as we continue to develop more variants internationally and they come our way, it looks like boosters are going to become a reality,” Dr. Manish Garg, an emergency medicine physician and co-founder of the World Academic Council of Emergency Medicine, said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above).

The three vaccines available in the U.S. from Pfizer (PFE), Moderna (MRNA), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) have shown to be effective against the most dominant COVID strain — the Delta variant. However, their efficacy rates are weakened when facing the variant and overall efficacy will naturally wane over time.

As a result, both Pfizer and Moderna have stated that their companies were in the process of developing booster shots that would fill in any gaps in the current vaccines.

“I would say that boosters are going to be necessary for those that are the most vulnerable, so those who are either immune suppressed or immunocompromised, and I think that’s where we’re going to see this eventually go,” Garg said. “Right now, we know that if you’ve been vaccinated with any of the vaccines that are currently available in the U.S. — so the Pfizer, the Moderna, the J&J — you are going to be protected from the worst possible outcome, which is the intubation, ICU admit, death, and I think that’s the key point here.”

'Children may end up becoming the folks that are spreading it'

In the U.S., 58.1% of those ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated, while 67.5% have received one dose.

“This virus still does a number on people who’ve been infected… so we’re seeing that this has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Garg noted. “And there’s a large chunk of people that are still unvaccinated.”

With vaccination rates slowing over the past two months, officials are looking for ways to incentivize the unvaccinated to reconsider their stance. This includes offering payments and scholarship opportunities in some states.

On Thursday, President Biden directed the Department of Treasury to begin doling out $100 payments to state governments to give to Americans who opt to finally get vaccinated.

For those still unsure about getting vaccinated, Garg suggested viewing it as a way to protect loved ones who are more vulnerable — such as children under 12 and immunocompromised or immunosuppressed individuals.

“We do know that children who are under the age of 12, they seem to — when infected — not have the worst outcomes,” Garg said. “But right now, over 20% of the infections that are happening in the unvaccinated are children. Unfortunately, children may end up becoming the folks that are spreading it to those who are the most vulnerable in our communities.”

He also noted that the virus is still novel, meaning that the long-term effects still remain unknown.

“We know that you can get multi-inflammatory syndrome in children, and we certainly don’t know the long-term effects if kids do have a bad outcome,” Garg said. “I think it all depends on what a person or family’s personal risk is. And if you have children that are certainly at risk or if you have people in your household that are there, it makes a lot of sense that people would end up trying to use a strategy that would protect all of us.”

Multi-system inflammatory syndrome first emerged as a side effect of COVID-19 in children back in April 2020 and there have been 4,196 cases in children as of June 28, 2021. The CDC defines it as “a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.”

Garg’s hope is that more data will be available by the fall when children return to school about whether or not the vaccines are safe to use for those under the age of 12, which he said would create “a much better experience.”

In the meantime, though, it’s back to the basics: Wear a mask when necessary, especially for unvaccinated individuals, and avoid high-transmission areas if possible.

“It’s important to know that when you follow the science, the science is clear that the masks work, vaccines work, and we need to evolve our public health recommendations as this virus evolves,” Garg said.

Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells and reach her at [email protected]

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