ATLANTA - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a message for unvaccinated people relying on previous COVID-19 infections to provide immunity against future infections: Get vaccinated.
It’s the same message the CDC has spent most of 2021 delivering to Americans. But this time, they’re presenting data from a new study that details how much more protective vaccines are than immunity achieved through previous infections.
Published Friday, the study looked at data from the VISION Network on adults hospitalized with COVID-19-like symptoms. Researchers found unvaccinated people who had recovered from previous a COVID-19 infection three to six months prior were five times more likely to test positive for the virus than vaccinated adults.
In this photo illustration, the information calling on people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is seen on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, which displayed on a smartphone screen. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA
"We now have additional evidence that reaffirms the importance of COVID-19 vaccines, even if you have had prior infection," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said. "This study adds more to the body of knowledge demonstrating the protection of vaccines against severe disease from COVID-19."
More than 7,000 people in 187 hospitals across nine states took part in the study. Scientists are conducting similar studies trying to collect enough data to see how long immunity achieved through recovery from natural infections lasts.
The Yale School of Public Health published a study earlier this month that said there wasn’t enough empirical data to make such a judgment yet, but they did find unvaccinated people can expect to be re-infected with COVID-19 every 16 months.
Yale researchers found unvaccinated people run a 5% risk of reinfection roughly three months after recovery. But once they reached the 16-month mark, that risk increased to 50%.
The CDC again pleaded for all eligible persons to get vaccinated as soon as possible, including those who have recovered from a previous infection.
"The best way to stop COVID-19, including the emergence of variants, is with widespread COVID-19 vaccination and with disease prevention actions such as mask wearing, washing hands often, physical distancing, and staying home when sick," Walensky said.
According to the CDC’s vaccination tracker, 192 million Americans were fully vaccinated against the virus by Oct. 29. That’s a little more than 58% of the population and means well over 100 million Americans remain unvaccinated.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden called the number of unvaccinated Americans "unacceptably high."
This story was reported from Atlanta.