People who recovered from COVID-19 are not completely immune to the virus

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are again rising across the United States, with the highest spread coming in areas with low vaccination rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The increase in cases has come with the continued spread of the more contagious Delta variant.

As a result, the CDC and Democratic and Republican leaders are urging more people to get vaccinated. But what about people who already had COVID-19? A VERIFY viewer asked if they are immune and wondered if they should get vaccinated.

President Joe Biden recently announced sweeping new pandemic requirements for millions of federal workers as he denounced an “American tragedy” of rising-yet-preventable deaths among unvaccinated U.S. employees and others.

Biden declared we’re facing “a pandemic of the unvaccinated” and said “people are dying who don’t have to die” while announcing that federal workers will be required to attest they’ve been vaccinated against the coronavirus or else face mandatory masking, weekly testing, distancing and other new rules.

The strict new guidelines are aimed at boosting sluggish vaccination rates among the four million of Americans who draw federal paychecks and to set an example for private employers around the country.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell implored unvaccinated Americans to take the COVID-19 shot, issuing a stark and grave warning of a repeat of last year’s shutdowns if people refuse to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

McConnell urged Americans to ignore the “demonstrably bad advice” coming from pundits and others against the vaccines. As caseloads skyrocket, he noted that nearly all the new virus hospitalizations in the U.S. are among people who have not been vaccinated.

The World Health Organization says: “Take whatever vaccine is made available to you first, even if you have already had COVID-19. It is important to be vaccinated as soon as possible once it’s your turn and not wait. Approved COVID-19 vaccines provide a high degree of protection against getting seriously ill and dying from the disease, although no vaccine is 100% protective.”

The CDC also recommends people who already had COVID-19 get vaccinated. People who were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma should wait 90 days before getting vaccinated, the CDC says. But after that, the agency recommends those people get the vaccine as well.  

As researchers continue to learn more about the novel coronavirus, Dr. Bill Moss, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University, said immunity means a person’s immune system has previously responded to a bacteria or virus that causes infection.

“However, it’s more of a spectrum than an absolute, as there are different levels of immunity,” he said

Johns Hopkins University is hosting a free, publicly available course titled Understanding the COVID-19 Pandemic: Insights from Johns Hopkins University Experts. This course is set up as a series of short modules to explore the COVID-19 pandemic. Registration is not required.

The Moderna two-dose mRNA coronavirus vaccine has a 93% efficacy that remains six months after the second dose, but the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said a booster shot will be “necessary prior to the winter season.” However, public health officials say that they do not believe Americans need a booster at this time, despite the highly contagious Delta variant fueling the surge.

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