Each week, OMRF President Dr. Stephen Prescott opens “Adam’s Journal” to answer a medical question from OMRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Adam Cohen.
Here’s a question from a reader:
I am 70 years old and have always been very healthy. I got sick with the coronavirus in December; it lasted about two and a half weeks, and that was the sickest I can ever remember being. I can tell my stamina hasn’t quite come back yet, but I feel fine now.
I was told I should have immunity from the virus for at least 3 months and possibly even up to a year. Do I really need to get the vaccine? Isn’t that just trying to get people’s bodies to produce antibodies to fight the virus, which my body has already done?
Dr. Prescott Prescribes
People’s immune responses to Covid-19 infection vary greatly. Some produce a large amount of antibodies, while others do not. Age is a factor here, with older people’s bodies producing fewer antibodies.
Recent studies show that vaccines help remedy this problem, greatly increasing the odds that anyone who receives them produces ample quantities of antibodies. In these studies, in fact, scientists found that people who were infected and later received vaccinations generated more robust amounts of antibodies than those who’d never been sick.
Even if you’ve been sick with Covid-19, getting the vaccine will ensure your body can ward off subsequent infections, which have been found to occur in people who’ve not received shots. It’s also particularly important with the emergence of new strains of the virus like the so-called South African variant. When scientists analyzed the blood of people who’d recovered from infection with the non-variant strain of the virus, what they found suggested they’d have trouble fending off this new mutation.
Results from some studies have suggested that in people who’ve been infected, one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines could be sufficient to bring about the necessary immune response. But because this has not been thoroughly tested, and because we are entering a world where the ability to show you’ve been fully vaccinated may be important in some settings, I’d urge you to get both doses (or the new single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine).
The vaccines are extremely safe. And with a full course of shots, you can rest assured you have the best protection available.
Do you have a health query for Dr. Prescott? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your question may be answered in a future column!