I Recovered from COVID-19. Do I Really Need to Get Vaccinated?
If you’ve recovered from COVID-19 in the past, you may be wondering if it’s really necessary to get vaccinated. Compelling new research suggests the answer is “yes.”
While being sick with COVID-19 creates antibodies that protect against future illness, it’s clear that this protection is not nearly as strong, or as long-lasting, as the protection provided by vaccination.
“I’m often asked whether people who have recovered from COVID-19 are at risk for getting the virus again,” said Rajesh G. Govindaiah, MD, MBA, FACP, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Memorial Health System. “Unfortunately, they are—especially now that the Delta variant makes up the majority of U.S. cases.”
A new study published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report focuses on research conducted in California. Researchers studied people who had recovered from COVID-19 in 2021. Some of these individuals chose to be vaccinated, while others did not. Those who were unvaccinated were 29.2 times more likely to be infected and hospitalized with COVID-19.
“This shows that the antibodies from vaccination are much more powerful than those that occur after recovery from illness,” Dr. Govindaiah said. “I would encourage people who have recovered from COVID-19 to get vaccinated to ensure they don’t go through that experience again. Even if you had a mild case the first time, you might not be as lucky the second time.”
Most people who recover from COVID-19 are able to get the vaccination as soon as they are cleared from isolation (usually 10 days). However, if you received monoclonal antibody treatment, you may be required to wait longer. Talk to your doctor if you aren’t sure.
Learn about where to get vaccinated in your community at ChooseMemorial.org/COVID19.