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New study finds dogs, cats may need to get COVID-19 vaccine

The study reports domesticated pets may need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus due to continued mutations of the virus and possible transmission to humans.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Many of us on the First Coast are getting our COVID-19 vaccinations, and now researchers say Fido and Mittens may need their shots too.

“He is extra," La Toya Butler said. 

Milo is a six-month-old Shih Tzu and Maltese mix with a big personality.

“Milo is like my lifesaver," Butler said. "He is a dog and a people person. He’s very friendly. We’re kind of opposites because I’m an introvert and Milo is not.”

Butler didn't think she'd have to worry about Milo getting the coronavirus. 

“I was surprised to hear that animals can catch COVID-19," Butler said. "I thought it was just something that humans can catch.”

A new study published in the medical journalism Virulence finds domesticated pets, such as dogs and cats, may need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus due to continued mutations of the virus. 

Scientists in the study report COVID-19 could be transmissible to humans in the future and "pose a significant long-term risk to the public."

Dr. Elizabeth Ransom with Baptist Health says it’s way too early to know if pets will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the future. She does say scientists should continue to look at that possibility as the virus mutates.

“I think with COVID-19 just like with any virus mutations occur. That’s what viruses do. They mutate over time, and we don’t know exactly what that mutation will look like or what particular features it may have," Ransom said. 

Butler says she would have Milo vaccinated against COVID-19 to keep both of them healthy. 

“If animals can get vaccinated for COVID-19 so it won’t be transferrable to humans, then I’m for it because we just need to be in a safe environment," Butler said. 

Documented cases of COVID-19 have been found in a variety of animals, including cats, dogs, mink, and monkeys, among others. 

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