If you’ve had COVID-19 before, do you still need to be vaccinated?

Family Healthcast

(WSYR-TV) –It’s not looking promising for President Biden’s goal of 70 percent of Americans vaccinated by July 4. Many want to know if they still need the vaccine even if they contracted and recovered from COVID-19. 

NewsChannel 9 checked with an internist who says it’s very likely you have some protection against re-infection, particularly from the strain of the virus you caught, but there are several good reasons why people who had COVID should get vaccinated.

For one, re-infection is possible. In a general population, about 1 out of 1,000 COVID patients have gotten it again. Among Marine recruits, the reinfection rate has been shown to be as high as 10 percent.

Vaccines can generate stronger immune responses: People who had mild infections tend to have lower neutralizing antibody activity than people who have been vaccinated.

Immunity can wane over time. Seven months after infection, 20 percent of people who had shown previous COVID-19 infection did not have memory B cells, which are needed to mount a new antibody response.

New strains of the virus continue to emerge as well. Vaccination, particularly the first dose, has been shown to increase antibodies to the original and new strains by 10 to 1,000-fold among people who had COVID months before. 

On the other hand, the ability of natural infection to increase neutralizing antibody titers to new strains has been shown to vary significantly

There are many reasons to get vaccinated even if you had COVID-19, but just be aware that, after the first shot, you’re more likely to have temporary side effects such as fever and chills than people who have not had COVID-19.

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