Getting the COVID-19 vaccine after having the virus? SWMO health experts explain what to know

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 8:40 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is reporting that 41% of the community is fully vaccinated. Some people who have had the coronavirus may be wondering if they should still get the vaccine.

Immunologist Dr. Minh-Thu Le says it’s still important for people who have had COVID-19 to protect themselves from the variant by getting vaccinated.

“If you have had COVID, and then you get a vaccine, your immunity is actually probably better than me,” says Dr. Le. “I’ve never had COVID and I’ve had two vaccines, and somebody else who’s had COVID and has never had a vaccine.”

Dr. Le says when you get COVID-19, you get antibodies that will help fight the virus later. However, you also get antigens.

“You also get lots of antigens that tell your body to stop making antibodies,” Dr. Le says.

That’s where the vaccine helps.

“You’re not making antibodies as well as you would be if you got the vaccine because the vaccine is only those antibodies you need to fight off COVID,” Dr. Le says.

Cox’s internal medicine physician, Dr. Nana Gaisie, says it’s important for people who’ve had the virus to get vaccinated so they don’t get infected again.

“Re-infection with COVID-19 is possible and it can cause severe medical complications,” Dr. Gaisie says. “We’ve had several patients who got re-infected.”

Dr. Gaisie says the antibody levels from getting the vaccine are higher than the natural ones your body has from the virus. Those higher antibody levels are crucial in fighting against the rampant delta variant.

“Those high antibody levels usually come with a longer duration of protection and a robust immune response,” Dr. Gaisie says.

Pediatrician Dr. Kayce Morton is urging everyone 12 and up to get vaccinated because she’s seeing more kids get infected. Currently, there is no vaccine available to those under the age of 12.

“We’ve seen about an uptick of one to two admissions a day with COVID within the hospital or the urgent care, so we’re seeing these younger kids be affected,” Dr. Morton says.

Dr. Morton says she’s concerned for her young patients who test positive for the virus because of potential long-term effects.

“They’re not protected and they have that potential for long life complications,” Dr. Morton says. “Whether it’s a myocarditis and the increase risk of them to have issues later.”

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