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The CDC has released a review of over 90 published studies about the difference between infection-induced immunity (immunity provided by prior COVID-19 infection) and vaccine-induced immunity (immunity provided by vaccine). These studies and research papers show that vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19 illnesses.
Throughout the pandemic, and especially since the COVID-19 vaccine became available in late 2020, people have asked if one type of immunity is better than the other. Below are answers to some commonly asked COVID-19 immunity questions.
Q: If you had COVID-19 once, are you in the clear?
A: No. Prior infection can provide some level of protection, but we don’t know how strong or how long that protection may be. Each person’s immune response, or how they build a defense against the virus, can vary based on their infection and health.
Q: How does the vaccination help reduce your risk?
A: Vaccination is designed to prepare your immune system to respond when exposure to the virus occurs. Vaccination reduces the risk of infection, reinfection, and severe outcomes like hospitalization and death.
Q: How long is the average person immune from COVID-19 illness after being infected?
A: Individuals are at low risk of getting infected with COVID-19 again for at least six months.
Q: Is the COVID-19 vaccine effective?
A: Yes. It provides the best protection available against infection and reinfection.
Q: Are older people more at risk?
A: Yes. Older adults and immunocompromised individuals have a higher risk of infection or reinfection.
Q: Would it be beneficial to contract the virus to protect from future strains intentionally?
A: No. COVID-19 varies in severity and can lead to severe complications and death. Vaccination is the safest and most effective protection available.
Q: If you’ve had COVID-19 before the Delta variant, could you still contract Delta?
A: Yes. Studies show that people infected with the original virus strain or subsequent variants before the Delta variant can be reinfected.
Q: If you’ve already been infected, should you get vaccinated?
A: Yes. Those who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection can increase their protection and antibody response by getting vaccinated. Vaccination is currently the safest way to protect yourself from COVID-19 illness, severe disease, and death.
Q: Can you get the vaccine while you’re infected?
A: No. People with COVID-19 should receive the vaccine after they have recovered from their illness and after they have concluded isolation.
Q: Are all individuals who have previously been infected equally protected from contracting COVID-19 in the future?
A: No. Infection-induced immunity is uncertain and inconsistent. Age, health condition, and severity of the infection are just some factors impacting a person’s immunity from future infection. Vaccine-induced immunity is more consistent in providing individuals protection from illness.
The CDC continues to urge all eligible people to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible to prevent contraction and slow the spread of the disease. For information on vaccination sites near you, visit https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/availability/.