In contrast to the COVID-19 vaccine, which has been shown to produce consistently strong memory within the adaptive immune system, the adaptive immune memory created through natural infection can vary based on the severity of illness, the individual’s age and other factors, says Tidelands Health infectious disease specialist Dr. Jo-anne Klein. Because adaptive immunity is complex, there aren’t any tests that can reliably predict if previous infection will protect you from future infection. Your body’s ability to quickly ward off future re-infection can be limited, resulting in more serious illness than if you had received the vaccine.
Plus, she says, relying on natural infection comes with inherent risk because it’s impossible to be sure how your body will respond to COVID-19. Some people develop mild symptoms from COVID-19, while others suffer severe – and potentially fatal – complications.
“Ultimately, the best defense we have against COVID-19 is vaccination,” Dr. Klein says. “As we have seen across the country and world, the vaccine is very safe and highly effective.”