The spread of the coronavirus, labelled COVID 19, has devastated all of us in many ways. Some of us have been vaccinated, and even “boosted”; some of us remain reluctant to get vaccinated. One of the common reasons I hear from my patients is that “I already had the infection and I have natural immunity.” The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that everyone get a COVID 19 vaccine, even if they’ve had the virus before. Many of these patients are reluctant to get the vaccine for the reason I have just stated. They believe that the immunity generated by their previous infection will protect them if, and when, they encounter the virus again.
This idea that a previous infection with COVID 19 will protect a patient from reinfection is false. How long the natural immunity persists in patients infected with the virus is not fully known, and how long the natural immunity lasts is still not clear. Moreover, the severity of a second infection, especially with a new variant, could result in life threatening consequences. A recent study looking at over 700 residents of Kentucky has shown that people that have recovered from a COVID 19 infection and have not been vaccinated afterward, have double the risk of acquiring the virus, compared with those that were vaccinated after the initial infection.
Two doses of an mRNA vaccine produce 10 times more than the level of neutralizing antibodies that are present in the blood of patients who have recovered from a COVID 19 infection.