COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Confusion continues throughout Southern Colorado right now, about whether or not to get a booster shot if you've already had COVID.
A person's immune reaction from having coronavirus is typically relatively strong for months. However, health officials say having a natural immunity isn't enough, encouraging people to get the COVID vaccine even if they've had the virus.
“There is no doubt, that by far, even for people who have recovered and made a really good immune reaction to the virus, getting an additional dose of the vaccine makes a big difference," said Dr. Michael Roschon, Vice President of Research Operations at Centura Health. "We can see antibody levels go about a thousandfold higher."
New studies are also shedding light on whether having COVID previously protects you more than the vaccine when it comes to reinfection.
“It’s consistent and the studies show that one: you can become reinfected, and two: even having had infection before, you’re still two times more likely to get COVID-19 if you weren’t vaccinated, so the vaccine is still highly protective," said Dr. Michelle Barron, Senior Medical Director of Infection Prevention at UCHealth.
Antibodies also rise in those who were vaccinated but got a breakthrough case. That person's immune system is now reactivated to the entire virus, not just to the spiked protein — which provides great immunity for most. However, if you recently had a breakthrough case, you shouldn’t wait 8 months to get a booster. If you're eligible, doctors recommend getting another dose 90 days after you originally got sick.
When it comes to natural immunity, experts are working hard to clear up any misconceptions.
“I think a lot of people are using that as an excuse not to get the vaccine because they sort of see it as more of the ‘holistic’ way of having this," said Dr. Barron. "COVID is bad. COVID has long-term effects. Even if you don’t end up in the hospital, there are more and more studies looking at individuals that have memory deficits and have exercise limitations. So relying on the ‘I got away with it the first time and I’m okay’ may not be what happens with Delta."
Overall, immunity is not "one size fits all." There are even people who get infected with coronavirus and produce no antibodies, which leaves them with zero protection. Health officials agree because of this, getting a vaccine is your best choice to avoid infection.