Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if Iíve had
By The Associated Press
January 13, 2021
Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if Iíve had the virus?
Yes. Regardless of previous infection, the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention says people should plan on
getting vaccinated when itís their turn.
"Itís a pretty straightforward question," said Johns Hopkins
infectious disease specialist Dr. Amesh Adalja. "Yes, you need
to get vaccinated."
After someone recovers, their immune system should keep them
from getting sick again right away.
"Your immune system is able to identify the virus, and
protect itself," said Dr. Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease
expert at George Mason University.
Scientists still donít know exactly how long this immunity
lasts or how strong it is, though recent research suggests the
protection could last for several months.
Itís impossible to know how long a person might be immune,
said Dr. Prathit Kulkarni, an infectious disease expert at
Baylor College of Medicine. "Thereís no way to calculate that."
Vaccines, by contrast, are designed to bring about a more
consistent and optimal immune response. And they should boost
whatever preexisting immunity a person might have from an
infection, experts say.
"Since weíre in this pandemic, and donít have a handle on it,
the safer approach is to vaccinate," Kulkarni said. "You donít
lose anything and you stand to benefit."
If youíve been infected in the last three months, the CDC
says itís OK to delay vaccination if you want to let others go
first while supplies are limited.
"All things being equal you would want the person with no
protection to go first," Adalja said.
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Studies find having COVID-19 may protect
By Marilynn Marchione
The Associated Press
December 23, 2020
Two new studies give encouraging evidence that having
COVID-19 may offer some protection against future infections.
Researchers found that people who made antibodies to the
coronavirus were much less likely to test positive again for up
to six months and maybe longer.
The results bode well for vaccines, which provoke the immune
system to make antibodies ó substances that attach to a virus
and help it be eliminated.
Researchers found that people with antibodies from natural
infections were "at much lower risk ... on the order of the same
kind of protection youíd get from an effective vaccine," of
getting the virus again, said Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the
U.S. National Cancer Institute.
"Itís very, very rare" to get reinfected, he said.
The instituteís study had nothing to do with cancer ó many
federal researchers have shifted to coronavirus work because of
Both studies used two types of tests. One is a blood test for
antibodies, which can linger for many months after infection.
The other type of test uses nasal or other samples to detect the
virus itself or bits of it, suggesting current or recent
One study, published by the New England Journal of
Medicine, involved more than 12,500 health workers at Oxford
University Hospitals in the United Kingdom. Among the 1,265 who
had coronavirus antibodies at the outset, only two had positive
results on tests to detect active infection in the following six
months and neither developed symptoms.
That contrasts with the 11,364 workers who initially did not
have antibodies; 223 of them tested positive for infection in
the roughly six months that followed.
The National Cancer Institute study involved more than 3
million people who had antibody tests from two private labs in
the United States. Only 0.3% of those who initially had
antibodies later tested positive for the coronavirus, compared
with 3% of those who lacked such antibodies.
"Itís very gratifying" to see that the Oxford researchers saw
the same risk reduction ó 10 times less likely to have a second
infection if antibodies were present, Sharpless said.
His instituteís report was posted on a website scientists use
to share research and is under review at a major medical
The findings are "not a surprise ... but itís really
reassuring because it tells people that immunity to the virus is
common," said Joshua Wolf, an infectious disease specialist at
St. Jude Childrenís Research Hospital in Memphis who had no role
in either study.
Antibodies themselves may not be giving the protection, they
might just be a sign that other parts of the immune system, such
as T cells, are able to fight off any new exposures to the
virus, he said.
"We donít know how long-lasting this immunity is," Wolf
added. Cases of people getting COVID-19 more than once have been
confirmed, so "people still need to protect themselves and
others by preventing reinfection."
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives
support from the Howard Hughes Medical Instituteís Department of
Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.