Natural Immunity from Covid-19 Vs. Vaccine Immunity
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – If you contract the Covid-19 virus does your natural immunity serve as a replacement for the vaccine? The answer is no and health officials say relying on natural infection is like playing a game of Russian roulette.
Health care experts explain that immunity from natural infection is lasting longer than they first estimated, but the amount of actual protection can vary, leaving some people vulnerable to reinfection.
“We do know that if you have had a natural infection and you do not get vaccinated then you are about 2 ½ times more likely to be reinfected with Covid than if you have had a previous infection and are vaccinated,” says Dr. Anna Durbin, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Doctors say depending on one’s natural immunity after an infection is a risky business, especially when the outcomes are so unclear.
“You don’t know upfront if you are going to do well or not. Clearly, if you have escaped the disease, chancing it is a big gamble. If you know that you are going to have a mild infection that’s ok but nobody knows that upfront. There’s no way of predicting that. We don’t have a good test to tell you if your natural immunity has lessened,” says Dr. Carlos Baleeiro, Pulmonologist at CHI Memorial.
“What vaccination does is provide very good immunity without the severe illness that natural infection does,” says Dr. Durbin.
In fact, doctors say that if you’ve had the virus, recovered, and then received the vaccine, the results are an extremely strong immunity. So when should someone who’s recovered from the virus get vaccinated?
“The recommendation from the CDC has been 10 to 90 days. So essentially after you come out of your isolation period you become eligible to get the vaccine and certainly you would want to get it by three months after you had a natural infection to make sure you are not having waning natural immunity. My advice is if you have been previously infected, you are likely to benefit from getting the vaccine and there really is no downside to doing so,” says Dr. Jay Sizemore, Erlanger Infectious Disease.
Health experts want to remind you that even though the pandemic seems to be old news, doctors are continuously learning more and more about how the virus works and keeping you up to date about protecting yourself – and your loved ones.