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Vaccine Tracker: Do you need the vaccine if you’ve already had COVID-19?

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 7:06 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - On this edition of the Vaccine Tracker we’re looking into whether or not you need to get vaccinated if you have already had COVID-19.

We’re also looking into the latest developments on getting the younger age groups vaccinated. Currently Pfizer is only approved for ages 16 and 17 but Pfizer has submitted an emergency use authorization for ages 12-15. A pediatrician I spoke with on Thursday says that early indications from the study is that the vaccine is safe and effective for ages 12-15. It is possible that emergency use authorization could be granted in the next 2-3 months.

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/pfizer-requests-fda-clearance-vaccine-kids-ages-12-15-n1263649

Younger age groups are making up more of the hospitalizations for COVID-19, making it even more important to get them vaccinated.

https://www.npr.org/2021/04/27/991117850/demographics-shift-covid-19-patients-are-now-more-young-adults

Vaccination could be one of the keys to helping students have a more normal school year.

“One of the biggest things is quarantining for those kids. Kids are missing state championships, district playoffs, proms, you name it, their last year of production as a senior because they’re not sick but they’re quarantined. So if they have both of their vaccinations they no longer need to be quarantined if they get exposed,” Dr. Tom Schomaker, Pediatrician at Lakeland SW Medical Clinic says.

Also, we’re learning more about whether or not a person needs to get vaccinated from COVID-19 if you have previously been infected. A previous infection likely means you have some immunity from the virus, but that immunity is not well understood and you should still get a vaccine even if you have already had the disease.

“At this point we really just don’t know a ton about natural immunity and natural immunity are the antibodies you get from having had COVID. So we don’t necessarily know how long lasting, we don’t have really great data to show ow robust it is,’ Nicki Britten says. She is the Health Officer with the Berrien County Health Department and also an epidemiologist by training. “We definitely do see that people do have a period of immunity from COVID following an infection. So, there is some amount of a robust immune response but we don’t know how long lasting it is and what we really need is longer lasting immunity across the population if we really want to decrease transmission of COVID and move to these next phases and into the post-pandemic phases.”

I checked in with the Indiana State Department of Health and they provided the following statement on the issue:

“The CDC recommends getting vaccinated regardless of whether an individual already had COVID-19 because experts do not yet know how long a person is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if a person has already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that they could again be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.”

So, it is recommended that you can vaccinated even if you have already had the virus to ensure lasting immunity from COVID-19. Britten adds that it is important to note if you get a COVID-19 infection and are treated with antibodies to fight the disease you will need to wait 90 days before you can get vaccinated.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on the vaccination rollout, and I want to hear from you. Email me at zach.horner@wndu.com or find me on Facebook and send a message if you have an issue or idea of something we can dig into on the Vaccine Tracker.

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