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Q: How long does immunity to COVID-19 last?

Scientists are still studying how long people are protected after being infected with COVID-19 or after being vaccinated, but the news is encouraging. Recent studies have found that people do develop long-lasting immunity after exposure to the virus or vaccine.

The studies looked at people who had been infected with COVID-19 a year earlier. They found that these people still had cells in their bone marrow that recognized the virus 12 months later. This means that their immune system is able to produce more antibodies to fight COVID-19 – potentially for many years, and possibly for their entire lifetime.

There are also encouraging signs that people who were vaccinated will also have long-term immunity, although they may need booster shots – this is still being determined.

Even if you’ve been infected with COVID-19, it’s still a good idea to get vaccinated, as the studies found this seems to produce an even stronger immunity. The vaccine could also increase your protection against new COVID variants.

The bottom line is we are still learning about how COVID-19 immunity works, but these new studies are very encouraging. Not only do they show that people who have had COVID-19 will likely be protected for a long time, they also confirm that it’s a good idea for everybody, including people who were previously infected, to get the vaccine.

Michael J. Shea , MD

Critical Care Medicine

Maui Memorial Medical Center
221 Mahalani Street
Wailuku, HI 96793