COVID-19 is currently the leading cause of death in the United States. Our country is pushing 23 million cases of infection and more and more people are being diagnosed everyday. Luckily, Conway Medical Center has been able to expand their vaccination efforts at the direction of SC DHEC. But those in our community who have already been infected with COVID-19 are questioning if they should even get the vaccine.
We’ve gathered answers to some of those questions from our own experts at Conway Medical Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Why do you need to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you’ve already had the virus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a previous COVID-19 infection shouldn’t rule out getting the vaccine. The virus has severe health risks and people can be reinfected. The protection the vaccine may provide could help lower your risk of getting sick again. This is important because even though many people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, others may have more severe cases or could die.
Shouldn’t people who’ve had COVID-19 have immunity?
When you get COVID-19, your immune system should learn to recognize the virus and build up antibodies. But this immunity can vary from one person to the next and can be affected by a host of things including how sick you were and how long ago you had the virus.
According to Dr. Paul Richardson, Chief Medical Officer at CMC, you don’t necessarily just have to depend on your body’s own immunity to fight future infections of the virus. “There’s so much more evidence needed to determine the risk of reinfection and how long someone is protected from getting sick again,” said Dr. Richardson. “In the meantime, it’s important that you don’t try to determine your own level of immunity because there are too many variables from one person to the next. We all, no matter whether you’ve had the virus or not, need to strongly consider getting vaccinated so we can get this pandemic under control and protect those around us.”
Dr. Richardson suggests that the vaccine could add an additional boost to your immunity if you were previously exposed to COVID-19. “Experts are still trying to learn more about the immunity gained from being infected by the actual virus versus vaccination, but our hope is that the vaccine may provide even more effective and longer lasting protection,” he says. “Time and research will help clarify how long natural immunity and the vaccine will protect a person but right now research is showing that the vaccine does work so I really hope that everyone will consider getting it.”