Reader’s Questions: Is vaccination still useful if you’ve already had COVID-19? | NOW

Presumably, almost a million Dutch people have antibodies in their blood after being infected with the corona virus. Still, it seems useful for this group to get a vaccine in the future.

On Monday we asked via our response platform NUjij what questions you have about the possible corona vaccine. One of the questions that came up regularly is whether it makes sense to give a corona vaccine to people who already have an infection. With the knowledge we now have, this is indeed the case.

It is possible that after a coronavirus infection you are insufficiently protected against a new infection. In the government’s preliminary vaccination strategy, the corona vaccine is therefore also offered to people who have already had an infection.

What happens if you become infected with the corona virus?

Why do we expect that you are usually protected against a second infection after a coronavirus infection? If you become ill due to the corona virus, your immune system reacts to the virus, for example by producing antibodies. This production of antibodies takes a few days, but after that they are usually able to make the corona virus harmless. If you have corona antibodies in your body, the chance is small that you will soon become infected with the virus a second time.

With a vaccine, you actually fool the immune system a bit. With a vaccine you also try to ensure that your immune system builds up defenses against the corona virus, but without actually coming into contact with the corona virus. This can be done, for example, by putting a harmless piece of the corona virus in a vaccine.

We do not yet know how long you will be protected after infection or vaccination.

Protection after infection and vaccination can be different

The immune response after infection and after vaccination are similar, but there may be differences in how much protection they provide.

Anke Huckriede, Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Groningen, explains that it is possible that after a mild corona infection, for example, you have not built up enough antibodies to prevent you from becoming ill again, or that the antibodies you have built up quite quickly. disappear again. “It is therefore good to also vaccinate people who have already become infected with the corona virus.”

C├ęcile van Els, professor of vaccinology at Utrecht University, also confirms that it makes sense to vaccinate people who have already been infected. “The immune system response to a coronavirus infection varies enormously, some people are very well protected after infection and some barely.”

This was the first explanation article in response to your questions about the corona vaccine. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be writing about exactly how Moderna and Pfizer vaccines work, the known side effects of the major vaccine candidates, and how long a vaccine stays in your body.


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