I’m frequently asked by patients if they really need to get vaccinated if they’ve already had a documented Covid-19 infection. It’s logical to assume that once you’ve recovered from an initial infection our body would possess both humoral (antibodies) and cellular immunity.
However, as we’ve all heard in the news, a fair number of people are experiencing breakthrough infections, in part due to the increased transmissibility of the delta variant. One emerging question is “do I really need to be vaccinated if I’ve already had Covid?”
A new study published by the CDC found that those who we're not vaccinated had more than twice the risk of being re-infected during the present Delta wave.
Re-infection means getting Covid-19 a second time!
This study looked at 250 Kentucky residents who tested positive for COVID-19 between May and July of 2021, after a previous documented infection in 2020.
The results showed that people who have had a past Covid-19 infection, and not vaccinated since, have more than twice the risk of becoming infected with the virus again, compared to individuals who were vaccinated after their initial infection.
In a White House briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci explained how vaccines create stronger immunity than infection. He highlighted new research showing that two doses of an mRNA vaccine produce levels of neutralizing antibodies that are up to 10 times higher than the levels found in the blood of people who've recovered from COVID-19. The mRNA vaccines also enhance the B and T lymphocyte activity in people who've recovered from COVID-19, which broadens the spectrum of protection and helps to fend off new variants.
While this study is observational, meaning it doesn’t show cause and effect, it does reinforce previous research that suggests vaccination offers important additional protection.
These days, amid the presence of the more infectious delta variant, it bodes well for all of us to do everything possible to keep our immune systems healthy and strong. There’s now evidence that getting vaccinated, regardless of whether or not you’ve had a previous infection, provides significant benefit.
Soon I will be discussing what we know and can soon expect regarding guidelines on booster shots. Who will need them and when?
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Keep Hope Alive!
Jon D. Kaiser, M.D.
Office phone: (415) 381-7655