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Mighty immunity

Does virus plus vaccine equal extra COVID-19 protection?

Article Author: Juice Staff

Article Date:

Get the vaccine, even if you've had COVID-19.

Looking for a reason to get the COVID-19 vaccine, even if you’ve already overcome an infection? It turns out that surviving the virus and getting an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) are a powerful combo that can amp up your antibodies. Scientists refer to this as “hybrid” immunity.

“Hybrid immunity is potent. It’s more robust than immunity from a natural infection or vaccination alone,” said Shalika Katugaha, MD, system medical director of Infectious Diseases for Baptist Health.

A series of recent studies show that some people who have had both the virus and the vaccine strike a strong immune response against COVID-19. These individuals produce a high level of antibodies with greater flexibility and fighting capabilities against current variants, and researchers predict they’ll likely be effective against future variants. Of course, that’s not a reason to try to get the coronavirus or to not take precautions in public places, but it offers some insight to those who have previously had COVID-19 and are mulling over vaccination.

“Individuals who get vaccinated after having the COVID-19 infection have a certain level of natural immunity, plus extra protection from the mRNA vaccines,” Dr. Katugaha said. “There’s still a lot we don’t know about how long natural immunity lasts, and how it stands up to various strains of the virus. Vaccines, even after an infection, help prevent reinfections.”

The vaccine also triggers an immune response in a different way than an infection. “Natural infection exposes the body to the virus through the respiratory tract. The vaccine delivers the foreign antigen via the muscle, where the immune system may have a better chance of seeing it and stimulating an immune response,” Dr. Katugaha said.

You want to avoid exposing yourself to coronavirus because the risks are serious illness or death. Your greatest protection against delta and other variants is for you and your loved ones to get vaccinated.

At Baptist Health, we want to help keep our community informed about COVID-19. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit baptistjax.com/covid19vaccine. Click here to find a vaccination location near you.

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