Should I Get The COVID-19 Vaccine If I've Already Been Infected?
- Being sick with COVID-19 confers some natural immunity in the form of antibodies. Regardless, scientists do not know how long this immunity lasts or how effective this immunity is.
- It is critical that previously infected individuals still acquire the COVID-19 vaccine for their own protection and the protection of those around them.
- Even though you may have already been sick with the coronavirus, re-infection is possible. Due to the severe consequences of being sick with the virus — for yourself, those around you, and on our healthcare system — vaccinations are critical to helping end the pandemic.
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Individuals that were previously infected with COVID-19 should still get the vaccine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the immunity one gains from infection, called “natural immunity,” varies from person to person. Early evidence suggests that this natural immunity does not last long.
Therefore, even if you have been infected with or exposed to the virus in the past, you should still acquire the vaccines when it is made available to you.
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I have antibodies for COVID-19, why do I need to get the vaccine?
Because much is unknown about our natural immunity to COVID-19, the vaccine is merely an added measure of protection.
Your body developed antibodies when you were first infected with the virus; however, the efficacy of these antibodies may not suffice in preventing reinfection as with natural immunity for other diseases.
In other words, you have no idea how effective your antibodies will be, nor do you know how long they will last.
How are the antibodies produced by the vaccine different from those of natural infection?
The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are scientifically proven to be more than 94% effective at protecting you from COVID-19.
Moreover, these vaccinations carry no risk to your health. As such, the severe risks associated with COVID-19 do not justify avoiding vaccination.
If you are scared about adverse effects due to the vaccines, see our COVID myths debunked article here.
The end of the pandemic is in sight, and seeking your COVID-19 vaccinations can be annoying and troublesome. Regardless, we must each do our part to slow the spread of the virus.
Getting vaccinated is important, but you should also continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands with soap and water.
Spencer is a Public Health & Biology undergraduate student at New York University.