LEXINGTON, Ky. — There are three vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use (EUA) in the United States: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

But how long will that EUA last? Vincent Venditto, a pharmacy professor at the University of Kentucky, said it all depends.

What You Need To Know

  • The three approved COVID-19 vaccines are currently authorized for emergency use, but they may one day seek full authorization and approval for use

  • Emergency use authorizations last as long as government agencies declare the situation a pandemic

  • Once the pandemic status changes, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson will likely seek full authorization from the FDA

  • It is not yet known if COVID-19 vaccines will have to be taken yearly like the influenza vaccine

“The EUA will last for as long as the pandemic is declared a pandemic,” Venditto said. “So basically as long as we are in a pandemic state as declared by the government agencies, then the EUAs will be active and and the EUAs will be persistent with these three vaccines.”

As soon as the pandemic status changes, Venditto said it's likely the three pharmaceutical companies will seek full authorization from the FDA.

“I don't know if they've applied yet, but those applications are expected to be submitted in this year and, and that application would then allow the FDA to have, to provide full authorization, full approval for these vaccines,” Venditto said.

While as a society, we have been in the pandemic for a year, it is not long enough for experts to know right now if the COVID-19 vaccine will become a yearly shot.

“If the virus continues to mutate, and these new variants continue to pop up, then it's very likely that we would need something that is more in line with the flu vaccine, where we would need a new shot every year based on whatever variant or whatever strain is circulating at the time,” Venditto said.

He added regardless, it's crucial to help stop the spread and get the vaccine.

“So getting vaccinated now will help blunt spread and hopefully help one spread and how you know prevent those variants from arising,” Venditto said.

So far, 25% of Kentucky's adult population has been vaccinated.