Fact Check By: Craig Jones, Newswise

Truthfulness: False


Some experts say the science to support vaccinating those primed with COVID doesn’t exist and there’s a potential risk of harm, including death, in vaccinating those who’ve already had the disease or were recently infected.

Claim Publisher and Date: The Defender on 1921-04-05

An article published by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vaccination organization and widely shared on social media questions the need of vaccinating those who’ve already recovered from COVID-19. The article says there’s a "potential risk of harm, including death" in getting the vaccines. We report this claim as false. There is no evidence that vaccinating people who had previously had COVID is resulting in an increased risk of adverse events. In fact, there is some evidence that getting vaccinated after infection increases your immunity exponentially. See below.

The University of Miami Health System is currently conducting a National Institute of Allergey and Infectious Diseases-sponsored (NIH) clinical trial to evaluate how long immunity lasts after a person has had COVID-19, receives the vaccine, or both. The study is looking at immunity conferred by B cells, but also longer-term immunity that is conferred by T cells. This trial will help determine how long antibodies are present in the body for both populations and can protect the individual from infection.

According to this preliminary and ongoing research evaluating the antibody titers of vaccinated individuals who have received a single mRNA vaccine has shown that titers of vaccinees with preexisting immunity (i.e.: previous COVID-19 infection) were 10 to 45 times higher than vaccinees without preexisting immunity (i.e.: no previous COVID-19 infection) at the same time points after the first vaccine dose (e.g., 25 times as high at 13 to 16 days). Their titers also exceeded the median antibody titers measured in participants without preexisting immunity after the second vaccine dose by more than a factor of 6. No substantial difference was noted in the dynamics of antibody responses elicited by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines after the first dose.

The trial is ongoing and further research is being conducted but initial data seems to be showing that individuals who previously had COVID-19 and then were vaccinated have a higher level of antibody protection.

The "Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination" section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site states that people who’ve already had COVID-19 should get vaccinated. See below.

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. 

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